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National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

September 30, 2021

September 30 marks the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. In June of this year, the federal government designated September 30 as a federal statutory holiday, to commemorate the history and legacy of Residential Schools in Canada, and to honour survivors of the Indian Residential System and those who did not survive. This day is a direct response to Call to Action 80 of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

September 30 is also known as Orange Shirt Day, for the Indigenous-led movement inspired by survivor Phyllis Jack Webstad who, on her first day at residential school in 1973, had her new orange shirt taken from her.

This day is an opportunity to continue the learning and conversations about the true history of this land now called Canada. September 30 was chosen because September is the time of year in which children were taken from their homes to residential schools.

It is important that we continue to learn the truths of the Indian Residential Schools System and those whose lives were taken and the survivors of those schools. We hope that these days are just the beginning of, or continuation of, these conversations, as the work needed in Truth and Reconciliation must happen year-round.

Sept. 27 to Oct. 1 is also Truth and Reconciliation Week. In the UGDSB, staff have created numerous resources to support staff and student learning. The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation is hosting a week-long national event for youth in grades 5-12 in all Canadian schools. Through online workshops, activities and videos, conversations will be held around the residential schools system, truths of the Indigenous treaties, and First Nation, Métis and Inuit land claims.

We as an educational community are urged to read the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report and its 94 Calls to Action. We encourage individuals to review the UGDSB’s Indigenous Education policy, which will guide the board’s work going forward and help us to learn and unlearn the truths of colonialism. We will continue to work with and learn from our treaty partners and Indigenous community members and organizations.

We encourage everyone to thoughtfully participate in learning about residential schools and taking meaningful steps toward reconciliation.

Supports Available to Indigenous Students, Staff and Families

For students and families requiring support, school and board staff are available, including the board’s Indigenous Social Worker. Staff are encouraged to reach out to the board’s Employee & Family Assistance Program, which provides a wide range of services and resources. Additionally, a National Indian Residential School Crisis Line has been set up, which provides 24/7 support for former students and those affected. Services can be accessed by calling 1-866 925-4419.

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