September 30 is now recognized as a statutory holiday by the Government of Canada as the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation. The year 2021 will mark the first edition of this holiday, which is intended to be an important step in the reconciliation process.
It is a day of remembrance and recognition of the tragic history of the residential schools and the aftermath for the victims and their families. It is also a day of remembrance to honour the survivors, their families and their communities.
The choice of date is not insignificant. It corresponds to the time of year when children were taken away from their families and brought to residential schools. It coincides with the date established in 2013 to mark Orange Sweater Day. It is a commemorative event that grew out of the real-life story of Phyllis Webstad who had her orange shirt removed on her first day of school at St. Joseph’s Mission in Williams Lake, BC. This was the first of countless acts designed to erase her culture, break her family ties, and damage her self-esteem.
The objective of this Orange Shirt Day is to draw attention to the reality of residential schools and their impact on thousands of Aboriginal children and their families. It is an opportunity to share this part of history that took place from 1831 to 1996. We also hope to encourage gatherings in a spirit of reconciliation and hope.
This September 30 day can also encourage awareness raising for anti-racism and anti-bullying policies at the beginning of the school year.
To learn more about this slice of history, the NFB has put together several interesting documentaries.
It should be noted that a special program (a one-hour) will be broadcast on Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) during prime time. APTN will broadcast a special program throughout the day.