Canada will mark the second National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on Friday, September 30. This day also known as Orange Shirt Day, recognizes and commemorates the tragic history and ongoing legacy of residential schools by honouring survivors, their families, and communities.
Under the Indian Act, Indigenous peoples were compelled by law to have their children attend residential schools. The main goal of such institutions was to disconnect the children from their family, language, and culture. Over a 150 year period, some 150,000 Indigenous children attended these schools. The last residential school closed in 1996.
We wear orange shirts on September 30 as a way to commemorate and raise awareness of the individual, family and community inter-generational impacts of residential schools. The orange shirt is a symbol of the stripping away of culture, freedom and self-esteem experienced by Indigenous children over generations.
Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) Historic Waste Program Management Office and the Port Hope Area Initiative projects are situated on the traditional and treaty lands of the Mississauga and Chippewa Nations of this region. CNL also conducts work on the Northern Transportation Route project in the Northwest Territories and Northern Alberta on Treaty 8 lands, which include the home of the Dene-Cree, as well as the Métis Nation and the lands of the Deline Government and Sahtu-Dene people.
As CNL’s relationship with Indigenous peoples and communities evolves, so does its reconciliation journey. Since last September 30, CNL has sought insight from the communities we work with on documentation, such as the PHAI Indigenous Communications and Engagement Program, and incorporating Indigenous Knowledge into planning and operations. Additionally, CNL has increased its in-house Indigenous capacity with the hiring of a Director, Indigenous Relations and related staff while also developing a Reconciliation Action Plan and Indigenous Procurement Policy.
September 30 is a day to reflect on the meaning of Truth and Reconciliation and undertake your own learning. Some suggested resources are:
- Review the 94 Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission with particular attention to #92 (Business and reconciliation) as it will underpin CNL’s Reconciliation Action Plan, https://rcaanc-cirnac.gc.ca/eng/1524494530110/1557511412801
- Learn about the traditional territories you occupy. Look to understand those local First Nations, Inuit, or the Métis Nation peoples who we work and live with.
- Read 21 Things You May Not Know About the Indian Act, Bob Joseph; The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America, Thomas King.
- Watch a short video featuring Phyllis Webstad, the woman who inspired the wearing of the orange shirts, cbc.ca/kids/articles/what-is-orange-shirt-day
- Visit the Orange Shirt Foundation webpage, orangeshirtday.org
Walk the land at one of National Healing Forest Initiative locations https://www.nationalhealingforests.com/