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  • Writer's picturereconciliactionyeg

Canada’s embarrassing 13.8% success rate

Updated: Dec 7, 2023

Tansi Nîtôtemtik,

With Orange Shirt Day around the corner, we are discussing the government of Canada’s failure to implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC’s) Calls to Action and the role that Orange Shirt Day plays in executing the remainder of these Calls.


The TRC helped survivors tell their stories and detailed historical impacts of residential schools in its calls to action from 2015.[1] It provides a framework for Canada to address the consequences of residential schools. An estimated 150,000 Indigenous children attended the schools.[2]

The Calls to Action are 94 recommendations covering a range of topics, including education, cultural revitalization, well-being, and legal issues, all framed through the lens of reconciliation.[3]

How Much Progress Have We Made?

Canada has only implemented 13 of the 94 Calls.[4] That’s a measly 13.8% success rate. Last year, Canada completed just two of these Calls via non-governmental professional associations.

Assuming Canada can complete at least two calls per year, at this rate, Canada will have answered the remainder of these calls by 2065.[5] Dishearteningly, the government has 82 unanswered calls to address.

When the Calls to Action were unveiled in 2015, Justin Trudeau promised to achieve those applicable to the federal government.[6] This commitment has been neglected. The TRC’s lack of importance for the government is further evidenced by the TRC’s creation through the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement, not by the federal government itself.[7]

When lawmakers, business leaders and our government fully understand the importance of adhering to and addressing the Calls to Action, real change can happen.

We anticipate this year's reports to see how many Calls were completed.

Orange Shirt Day

Orange Shirt Day was officially created by the Orange Shirt Society, which is a non-profit founded by residential school survivor Phyllis Webstad.[8] Check out last year’s post here to read an excerpt from Phyllis herself.[9]

All Canadians are invited to wear orange and become educated on Indigenous issues. To advance reconciliation, all Canadians, not only Indigenous people, need to be involved.

Orange Shirt Day intersects with every Call to Action written by the TRC, and invites conversation on subjects other than residential schools. Wearing an orange shirt means you are committed to educating yourself on the extensive reach of colonization and doing what you can to decolonize your thinking. Participating in Orange Shirt Day is an act of solidarity, and a way to raise awareness of the issues affecting Indigenous people.

If every Canadian understands the generational impacts on Indigenous people, they are more likely to be empowered to learn how they can help foster a more inclusive world. Education on Indigenous overrepresentation in prison populations, the foster system, missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and gender diverse people, and the living conditions on many reserves are a great starting place.

Gaining Indigenous cultural competency is another way everyday people can make change within their families, friends, networks, workplaces and schools. Culturally competent people can debunks stereotypes, and disrupt harmful cycles of misinformation. Cultural competency can also help leaders develop strategies that create more inclusive spaces where Indigenous people can thrive.

How can we pressure our government to prioritize these Calls?

Reconciliation requires positive relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people, which demands action from governments and people in positions of power who can implement the changes that grassroots organizations are fighting for.

Indigenous lawyers and government officials are the trailblazers, but they need support.

Be visibly supportive by wearing orange on Orange Shirt Day, and register for the Orange Shirt Day run/walk on September 30th at 12:00pm here.

Many people are hesitant to get involved in Indigenous issues if they are not Indigenous

themselves, for fear of saying the wrong thing.

However, reconciliation requires all of us.

Like tending to a garden, reconciliation begins with small steps and can lead to long-term structural change. The only mistake you can make is inaction.

See you next week at the run/walk.

Until next time,

Team ReconciliAction YEG

[1] Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, Calls to Action, (Winnipeg: TRC Canada, 2015) [TRC, Calls to Action]; Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to Action (Ottawa: Public Works and Government Services Canada, 2015).

[2] Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, “Residential School History” (21 December 2020), online: National Center for Truth and Reconciliation <


[3] Supra note 1.

[4] Kim Siever, “Canada completed 2 of TRC’s 94 calls to action in 2022” (3 April 2023), online: Alberta Worker <,released%20their%20report%20in%202015>.

[5] Eva Jewell and Ian Mosby, ed, Calls to Action Accountability: A 2022 Status Update on Reconciliation (Toronto: Yellowhead Institute, 2022) at 5.

[6] Government of Canada, “Statement by Prime Minister on release of the Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission” (15 December 2015), online: Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau <>.

[7] Government of Canada, “Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada” (29 September 2022), online: Government of Canada <>.

[8] Reconcili-ACTION YEG 2022-2023 Team, “Check out the story behind the orange shirt” (27 September 2022), online (blog): Reconcili-ACTION YEG <

[9] Ibid.

280 views2 comments


Kim Siever
Kim Siever
Oct 30, 2023

Thanks for sharing my article! FYI, in your citation, you can delete everything in the URL after and including the #


Sep 26, 2023

Thank you for the insightful article! Looking at the progress as a percentage (only 13.8% 😯!?) is eye-opening. Lots of work to be done still.

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