Orange Shirt Day on September 30 is now known as the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. In response to Call #80 of the Truth and Reconciliation: Calls to Action, it is a day to honour survivors, their families, and communities, and to learn about and reflect on the history of residential schools and the ongoing impacts these schools have had on First Nation's communities to this day.

The Truth and Reconciliation Report called Residential schools “a systematic, government-sponsored attempt to destroy Aboriginal cultures and languages and to assimilate Aboriginal peoples so that they no longer existed as distinct peoples." Removing children from their families and forcing them to attend residential schools was Canadian government policy, in what has been recognized as attempted cultural genocide.

Between the 1870s and 1996, more than 150,000 Indigenous, Métis and Inuit children attended residential schools - seven generations of Indigenous people over the course of 150 years. Official records show that 4,100 of those children never returned home. Since the 215 unmarked graves were found in Kamloops in 2021, over 6000 more graves have been identified at residential schools across the country, with more anticipated.


Truth & Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Calls to Action

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was a national investigation into a Canadian government policy that, for over 125 years, removed Indigenous children from their families and sent them to residential schools where traumatic experiences of abuse and forced assimilation were the norm rather than the exception. The policy stemmed from a mindset that viewed Indigenous culture and ways of knowing as inferior to European civilization. In 2015, after years of collecting stories from survivors and those affected by the legacy, the TRC completed its final report, issuing 94 calls to action aimed at all sectors of Canadian society.

Of the 94 calls to action identified in the report, there are 5 actions that call specifically to municipal (local /regional) government. When taking into consideration the wide scope of services the CRD offers, many of the 94 calls to action are within the ability of the CRD to act.

CRD Statement of Reconciliation

The CRD’s boundaries span the Traditional Territories of over 20 First Nations, whose ancestors have been taking care of the land since time immemorial. The CRD believes that a positive working relationship with First Nations is good for the whole region. For the CRD to have a positive relationship with First Nations we need to acknowledge, respect and complement their Indigenous laws, customs and systems of governance.

The CRD Board has directed its staff to undertake cultural education of the CRD workforce, in response to the Truth and Reconciliation recommendation which directs “municipal governments to provide education to public servants on the history of Aboriginal peoples, including the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Treaties and Aboriginal rights, indigenous law, and Aboriginal-Crown relations. This will require skills based training in intercultural competency, conflict resolution, human rights, and anti-racism.”

The CRD Board has also committed to offering intercultural skills training to Board Directors.

Further, staff will develop a comprehensive corporate response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commissions Calls to Action. An organization wide reconciliation action plan will be prepared for approval by the Board.

National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

It is a day to reflect, learn, and to honour survivors of residential schools and their families and communities. It is also a day to recognize that in despite tremendous adversity, many Indigenous peoples have retained their laws, language, governance practices and culture, and are healing their communities.CRD-dragon-fly-red

Here are a few ways to learn more and to honour survivors:

  • Attend events on the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

Take care of yourself. We understand this is a very difficult time for many, including survivors of residential schools and their families, and all who had a loved one never return home. Support services include:

  • Indian Residential School Survivors Society – 24 Hour Crisis Line 1.800.721.0066
  • KUU-US Crisis Line Society – 24 Hour Crisis Line (British Columbia) 1.800.588.8717
  • National Indian Residential School Crisis Line 1.800.925.4419