Recognizing the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

Recognizing the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

Canadian Indigenous Flag by Curtis Wilson of the Wei Wai Kum First Nation near Campbell River. 


Recognizing the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation – By Michelle Casavant, Veza Global’s Indigenous Consultant


September is historically a painful month for Indigenous peoples because it was the month when children were torn away from their families to return to residential school.

Bill C-5 establishes the new federal statutory holiday: the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, September 30th.  This bill correlates to the Truth and Reconciliation Call to Action number 80, which called on the federal government to establish a holiday commemorating the history and legacy of residential schools and to honour the survivors, families, and communities.

The Government of Canada fast tracked the Bill after the announcement by Chief Rosanne Casimir of the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc of the found remains of 215 children on the grounds of the former Kamloops residential school.

September 30th was Orange Shirt Day, a grassroots movement which was a day to wear orange to commemorate and remember the children that attended residential school, the survivors, their families and communities.

The last residential school closed in 1996 and the effects of the system and colonization are still deeply felt in communities today.

Learning the truth is critical to moving forward with reconciliation. On September 30th, and every day, we need to reflect on the terrible history and ongoing legacy of residential schools, whether it is through personal reflection or with others.

You are invited to watch this powerful interview of former senator and chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Murray Sinclair.

Of note, Murray Sinclair states:

“reconciliation cannot come from a place where the non-Indigenous people think they are being benevolent.”   

He also notes that reconciliation will take 7 generations, and that Indigenous peoples are doing all the heavy lifting.

Do your part and help with the heavy work by learning the truth, reading the TRC Calls to Action, engaging in conversations, and more. The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation has a schedule of events for the week of September 27 – October 1, which you can access here.


Supporting diverse populations

In these uncertain times, my thoughts have been with the populations that I have been working to support for the last few years – those from the underrepresented groups. Usually I am focused on the equality of pay for people of color, however we spend a lot of time working with organizations on hiring people who are newcomers, people with disabilities and Indigenous that I can’t help to think about how we can help them. I need your help to do that. 

These individuals are usually the ones who are already struggling to find meaningful employment and many times close to the poverty line (26% -33% of those in poverty are immigrant and Indigenous women). Times where there are so many layoffs and companies are impacted financially, these individuals are some of the first who will be losing their jobs. 

Here are a few strategies that I am thinking about. I would love to hear your thoughts on how to support these individuals further:

For companies, who haven’t laid people off yet, strategize with your team on what is possible. Are there opportunities available to the company right now that were not available before? Is there another way to decrease expenses while keeping team members employed? 

Donate locally. Many of these individuals will be accessing the Adopt a school program and the Food bank. Please give to local organizations like the food programs or women’s shelters or other programs (please comment with suggestions below).

Gather resources in your community. Is there a place on your street or in your cul-de-sac where food can be left that people can access without having to ask for it (this is a total out of the box idea but think big people)?

As a company, give relief to your customers if possible. It will help with their cash flow and stress.

Set up a call with someone outside of your immediate circle and just connect. Connection can be what gives someone hope that they are not alone. 

I would love to hear your suggestions and ideas on how we can support these individuals.