Truth and Reconciliation Day

The Truth and Reconciliation day is celebrated on the 30th of September. But why is it celebrated? What is the link to orange t-shirts? 

The Truth and Reconciliation Day was adopted in 2021 as a legal statutory holiday. But, some provinces still do not recognize this day to be a holiday, for example the province of Quebec. 

Truth and Reconciliation Day is celebrated to honor the memory of the survivors  of residential schools and their families. It is also promoted to help the reconciliation between the government and the Indigenous peoples. 

Residential schools were a system created by the Canadian government to educate Indigenous children with Western values; they were trying to assimilate them. Children were frequently beaten and subjected to psychological and physical abuse. It started in the 1880s and continued throughout the 20th century. The last one closed in 1996. It is thus a very recent matter. 

Some institutions apologized for their errors in the past, the most recent case being the Roman Catholic Church. Pope Francis came to Quebec this summer and formally apologized on behalf of the Catholic Church for what they have done in the past. Indigenous people, in return, asked for compensation in terms of money and access to legal documents to trace down their loved ones that never came back home. 

The colour orange became a symbol when Phyllis Webstad, shared the story of when she was taken to a residential school. She was abducted when she was six-years old, and was wearing an orange t-shirt. The shirt was taken from her and she was forced to wear a conforming uniform that children wore everyday. It became a national symbol to remember the children that were taken that day, a symbol of loyalty and solidarity. 

For more information concerning about the Truth and Reconciliation day, the residential schools and the Orange t-shirt: 

By Alicia Harvey

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