September 30 is the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and an opportunity to recognize and commemorate the legacy of residential schools and honour the Call to Actions from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.
A federal statutory holiday was created by Parliament after the discovery of approximately 200 burial sites on a former residential school in British Columbia. Weeks later, a preliminary finding of 751 unmarked graves at a cemetery near the former Marieval Indian Residential School was found. Since then, more than 300 other potential burial sites have been identified, and searches are underway at sites across Canada. While the discoveries have shocked many and led to an outpouring of grief and news coverage globally, Indigenous people and advocates say it had long been known and talked about that some of the children who were removed from their families and forced to attend residential schools never made it back home.
While September 30th has been observed as Orange Shirt Day since 2013, the timing of this day further reinforces the significance of reconciliation as Indigenous children were removed from their families around this time of the year and forced to attend the residential schools. This is an opportunity for us to reflect, listen and learn. It should be used as a day to honour those impacted by the residential school system and further learn the indigenous culture and perspectives. Reconciliation may mean being open to challenging and sometimes uncomfortable conversations, and the ITL Network recommends to all members of the Internationally Trained Lawyers community to take this day as an opportunity to listen, learn, reflect, and act on the calls to action of the truth and reconciliation commission.
Below is a list of recommended resources to get started:
Indigenous Canada Course – https://www.coursera.org/learn/indigenous-canada
Indigenous Canada is a 12-lesson Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) from the Faculty of Native Studies that explores Indigenous histories and contemporary issues in Canada. This course is offered by the university of Alberta, and you can register for free.
Canada Residential School History – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yFbLMNgTXeI
Hon. Murray Sinclair – Impacts of Residential Schools –https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZPPHdKC_ZA8