As part of the 94 Calls to Action we released in 2015, Call to Action 80 called on the federal government to establish a statutory holiday to honour Survivors and ensure commemoration of the history and legacy of residential schools.
This year, Call to Action 80 has been realized — one of only 14 of 94 Calls that have been implemented.
As we pause to reflect on the first official National Day for Truth and Reconciliation this September 30, we must also recognize the moment in which it is happening.
In the past months, over a thousand unmarked graves have been uncovered on the grounds of former residential schools.
With each discovery, Survivors and their families experience trauma all over again. For Survivors, it brings up painful memories of friends being injured, disappearing or dying. For families, it is a constant reminder of the missing children who never came home.
The residential school system was rife with abuse, neglect, and violence. Over generations, these schools systematically dismantled the connection of children to their families, communities, cultures, languages, and traditions.
These memories and conversations are painful for Indigenous Peoples from coast to coast to coast. For non-Indigenous people in Canada, it is necessary to confront the truths about the history of this country, residential schools, and colonialism.
The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation presents us with a moment to look forward to what this country can be, and a renewed opportunity to put Reconciliation into action.
Education is the key for all people in Canada to walk the path of Reconciliation. To honour the memory of every child taken from their home, we must continue this truth-telling process and the honest conversations about the legacy and impact of colonialism in Canada.
We must also listen to the voices and experiences of Survivors, Elders, and Knowledge Keepers. Confronting the truth is difficult, but it is vital to keeping the process of Reconciliation alive and to creating a community where every child matters.
Take this new National Day for Truth and Reconciliation to set aside the impact of the untruthful version of history that has long been presented and to learn from Indigenous voices.