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The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is a statutory holiday for employees in the federal government and federally regulated workplaces in Canada on September 30.

The day is intended to educate and remind Canadians about the history of residential schools, honour the victims and celebrate the survivors.

The objective is to create a chance for Canadians to learn about and reflect on a dark chapter in their country’s history and to commemorate the survivors, their families and their communities, as called for by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and Indigenous leaders.

Over the course of more than 100 years, some 150,000 Indigenous children were ripped from their families and forced to attend church-run residential schools, where many suffered physical and sexual abuse, malnutrition and neglect. More than 4,000 are believed to have died.

The use of an orange shirt as a symbol was inspired by the accounts of Phyllis Jack Webstad, whose personal clothing—including a new orange shirt—was taken from her during her first day of residential schooling, and never returned. The orange shirt is thus used as a symbol of the forced assimilation of Indigenous children that the residential school system enforced.

From the AESES website

Thoughts to Reflect Upon for the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

Create your own land acknowledgement – building on land acknowledgements from your organization (UW, UM), take time to consider what acknowledging the land means to you – the below points are based on a session one of our patient/public partners lead recently, based in part on this blog:

Start with self-reflection

Why am I doing this land acknowledgement? E.g. inspiring others to take action to support Indigenous communities, drawing attention to a particular issue

What is my end goal? What do I hope listeners will do after hearing it?


What are my personal values, social and geographical location, possible biases, in relation to Indigenous peoples, the land we share, and decolonization?

Do your homework

Where is my family from and what perspective do I bring?
Who were the first peoples of the area I am in?
What treaties were created? Is it unceded territory as well?
What are Indigenous place names and languages where I am?

Use appropriate language

Racism, prejudice, stolen land, forced removal, stolen children, genocide, ethnic cleansing

Past, present and future

Acknowledge ongoing harms and systemic issues that Indigenous people continue to face as a result of colonization

Acknowledge the humanity of Indigenous people and show appreciation for their culture and contributions

Needs not be uninviting

Function as a celebration of Indigenous communities

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