In observance of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, September 30th will now be a statutory holiday. Federally regulated workplaces like Canada Post will be closed, to commemorate the tragic legacy of residential schools in our country. This date coincides with Orange Shirt Day, which began in 2013, and involves wearing orange shirts to honour Indigenous children forced to leave their families to attend residential schools.
The holiday comes in the wake of discovering the remains of more than 1,300 Indigenous children in unmarked graves at former residential schools since May of this year. Appallingly, we know there are many more yet to be found.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which was set up in 2008 to document the effects of residential schools on Indigenous people, released a report in 2015 with 94 Calls to Action. One action was for the federal government to establish a statutory holiday to honour residential school survivors, their families and their communities, and ensure that public commemoration of the history and legacy of residential schools remains a vital component of reconciliation.
While many of us are familiar with the term, there may still be confusion over what it means and who is responsible for reconciliation.