*This article contains information and links related to residential schools. Support is available to anyone who has been affected by residential schools. If you need emotional or crisis support, please contact the 24-Hour National Residential School Crisis Line at 1-866-925-4419.*
September 30 is National Truth and Reconciliation Day. This day is an opportunity to acknowledge the history of residential schools in Canada and honour the survivors, their families, and the communities that experience ongoing intergenerational trauma. On this important day, we can learn about our shared history to help create a more inclusive future and ensure that we remember the legacy of the residential schools.
Here are eight suggestions on how you can engage in truth and reconciliation:
1. Read, and Re-read the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission announced 94 Calls to Action in 2015. They provided 94 activities that all levels of government, and non-Indigenous and Indigenous communities, can support and initiate to set right the legacy of residential schools and advance reconciliation.
The report, published in 2015, is a crucial piece of our shared history and an important read for all settlers in this country to set us on a more inclusive path.
The First Nations Child & Family Caring Society of Canada has created this kid-friendly version of the Calls to Action if you want to learn about them with your younger family members.
2. Learn About Indigenous History and the Residential School System
Head to your local library, search bookstores and scan the internet to learn more about Indigenous history and the residential school system. There are lots of insightful sources out there, including the following:
Websites & Web Resources:
- Indigenous History of Canada
- The Residential Schools of Canada
- Canada’s Commitment to Reconciliation
- Residential School History
- Broken Circle: The Dark Legacy of Indian Residential Schools by Theodore Fontaine
- The Orange Shirt Story by Phyllis Webstad
Several Canadian universities also offer courses surrounding Indigenous history and the residential schools, which are available for free:
- Indigenous Canada offered through the University of Alberta
- Reconciliation Through Indigenous Education offered through UBC
3. Identify and Acknowledge the Territory Where you Live
Do some research to find out what territory you currently call home, and start acknowledging that in your day-to-day life. A great starting point is in your daily work meetings: Introduce a land acknowledgement at the beginning of both your external and internal get-togethers.
Take a look at resources like Whose Land (a web-based app that identifies Indigenous Nations, territories and communities) to find out where you live, work and play, so you are prepared to share that acknowledgement with your work team.
4. Listen and Learn
No matter what your knowledge of Indigenous history and the residential school system, there is no better time to listen and learn from the Indigenous peoples and communities around you. You can attend workshops and community groups, talk to Elders in your community, and listen to the Indigenous people you know about their history and lived experiences.
5. Attend a National Truth and Reconciliation Week Virtual Event
From September 27 to October 1, the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation is hosting a series of virtual events, all free to the general public. Check out their schedule of events to find ones you are interested in attending, and register for the week’s events here.
Take a look at your local events calendars to see what you and your family can attend in your area.
6. Explore Indigenous Voices
Whether you’re a TV watcher, a podcast listener, or a book reader, there are lots of options out there for you to hear from Indigenous peoples and creators. We’ve provided a few of each below to get you started:
TV Shows & Movies:
- Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner
- Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance
- nîpawistamâsowin: We Will Stand Up
- Falls Around Her
- Telling Our Twisted Histories
- Our Native Land
- Métis in Space
- Missing and Murdered
- The Henceforward
- Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese
- Medicine Walk by Richard Wagamese
- Starlight by Richard Wagamese
- Bone Black by Carol Rose
- Mamaskatch: A Cree Coming of Age by Darrel J. Mcleod
- If I Go Missing by Brianna Jonnie
- Indians Don’t Cry: Gaawiin Mawisiiwag Anishinaabeg by George Kenny
- The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline
- A Day with Yayah by Nicola I. Campbell (a children’s book)
- When We Were Alone by David A. Robertson (a children’s book)
- Owls See Clearly at Night by Julie Flett (a children’s book)
7. Support (and Volunteer with) Indigenous Non-profits
There are over 600 Indigenous non-profits that you can support here in Canada. Take a look through the array of organizations out there, find one (or more!) that speaks to you, and reach out to offer your support however you can.
DUDES club, for example, has over 42 locations in BC. They work in communities with high Indigenous populations to promote men’s wellness and “build solidarity and brotherhood, and enable men to regain a sense of pride and purpose in life.”
8. Support Indigenous creators and businesses
Support Indigenous artists, designers, jewellers, restaurants, and other business owners across Canada by purchasing their products, attending their events, following their social media accounts, sharing their content, and recommending their products and works to friends and family.
What Indigenous non-profits, businesses, and creators do you follow and support? Let us know in the comments below!