Inaugural National Day for Truth & Reconciliation
Updated: Nov 13, 2021
Today marks Canada's inaugural National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
For some, a day of grief, and others, a day of relief. For many Indigenous peoples, a mix of both.
The day, passed by Parliament this past June, honours the Survivors of residential schools, the children who did not make it home, and their families and communities. It is described as a “public commemoration of the tragic and painful history and ongoing impacts of residential schools” in the process of reconciliation.
And while the federal government attempts to give justice to the Calls of Action outlined by the Truth and
Reconciliation Commission, the fractures of the process are evident across the country. Saskatchewan, New Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario, and Alberta have chosen not to recognize September 30th as a statutory holiday.
It is a message that cuts deeply as our country continues to work towards recovering the bodies of thousands of children from former Residential School sites. And one that speaks volumes from a province such as ours, which saw an estimated 150,000 Indigenous children attend 25 residential schools between 1862 and 1975. The most of any province.
However, despite an unwillingness by governments, the country still mourns with Indigenous peoples, and a renewed sense of responsibility takes form in the way of education. The heartbeat of reconciliation is faintly heard.
For reconciliation is not just the word spoken in legislatures, political campaigns, and governments' documents with very different definitions of the word.
Reconciliation requires no formal holiday, no day off from school or work, no recognition on paper.
The process of both Truth and Reconciliation requires a concerted effort by everyday Canadians to seek out the truth and to walk in the process of reconciliation in an honest and meaningful way.
Not just today, but every day.
Reconciliation is the tables we sit at, the voices we listen to, the movies we consume, the music we hear, the people we seek out for answers, the books we read, the friends we keep, the work we do, the lived experiences we value, the way we move in our communities, and the stories we let into our hearts. It is a journey that begins with oneself, and as Blake Desjarlais, an Indigenous MP from Edmonton, shared with our blog last week, it is one that continues for as long as we live on this land.
So today, we hope that Canadians reflect upon Truth and Reconciliation, whether in a province that has recognized this important day or one that has not. And as our theme for this year highlights, we hope that, as Canadians, we are brave enough to seek out the truth and recognize it when we see it.
Our country may be fractured when it comes to recognizing the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation formally. Still, we can come together and pay respect to the tragedies caused by Canada's colonial institutions in our own ways. We can educate ourselves on how 150 years of policies and laws have created systemic inequalities and ongoing issues for Indigenous peoples. But most importantly, we can ask ourselves what the words Truth and Reconciliation mean to ourselves and then dedicate time every day from now until the following September 30th working to move us closer to both.
Until next time,
Team ReconciliACTION YEG
 National Day for Truth and Reconciliation (September 2021), online: Government of Canada: <https://www.canada.ca/en/canadian-heritage/campaigns/national-day-truth-reconciliation.html>
 Indigenous Mental Health Supports (June 2021), online: Government of Alberta: <https://www.alberta.ca/article-indigenous-mental-health-supports.aspx>
 Reconciliaction: A Conversation with MP-Elect Blake Desjarlais (September 2021), online: ReconciliACTION YEG: <https://reconciliactionyeg.wixsite.com/website/post/reconciliation-a-conversation-with-mp-elect-blake-desjarlais>