September 30 is now recognized as a statutory holiday by the Government of Canada as the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation. The year 2023 is the third edition of this holiday.
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.
At the time of its launch, this special day was intended to draw attention to the reality of residential schools and their impact on thousands of Indigenous children and their families across the country. It was an opportunity to share this portion of history that took place from 1831 to 1996. The merging of these symbolic moments into a national holiday is intended to encourage gatherings in a spirit of reconciliation and hope.
This September 30 day also contributes to raising awareness 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.
A number of special programs are being broadcast on selected television stations, while the APTN network, in collaboration with the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, is once again offering a commemorative gathering. This 90-minute multilingual event will be broadcast live from Parliament Hill starting at 1 p.m. ET.
The same network is also offering a program of Indigenous stories this fall, focusing on Indigenous resilience and the links between past, present and future. Find out all about this program and the special weekend on September 30 here.