Recognizing the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

Practice Point

Each year, September 30 marks the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

The day honours the children who never returned home and survivors of residential schools, as well as their families and communities. Public commemoration of the tragic and painful history and ongoing impacts of residential schools is a vital component of the reconciliation process.

September is historically a painful month for Indigenous peoples because it was the month when children were torn away from their families to return to residential schools. The last residential school closed in 1996 and the effects of the system and colonization are still deeply felt in communities today.

Orange Shirt Day also takes place on September 30. Orange Shirt Day is an Indigenous-led grassroots commemorative day intended to raise awareness of the individual, family, and community inter-generational impacts of residential schools, and to promote the concept of “Every Child Matters.”

The orange shirt is a symbol of the stripping away of culture, freedom, and self-esteem experienced by Indigenous children over generations. On September 30, we encourage everyone to wear orange to honour the thousands of survivors of residential schools.

Learning the truth is critical to moving forward with reconciliation. On September 30, and every day, we need to reflect on the terrible history and ongoing legacy of residential schools. Whether it’s through personal reflection, or with others, we encourage everyone to seek understanding about the experiences of Indigenous peoples and to recognize that historical and ongoing systemic wrongs have impacts that affect us all.

CLEBC will continue taking action to implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action, and the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Inquiry Calls for Justice, in our work providing lifelong learning for the legal profession.

Read the CLEBC Truth and Reconciliation Action Plan (Updated 2023)

This Truth and Reconciliation Week, we will be sharing with staff, the Board, and our customers links to our free Truth and Reconciliation resources including our Indigenous Women and the Law Conference and But I Was Wearing a Suit Part I and Part II.

At a recent Town Hall, CLEBC staff unveiled our Survivors’ Flag and placed our hands around it in solidarity. As stated by the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation: “The Survivors’ Flag is an expression of remembrance, meant to honour residential school Survivors and all the lives and communities impacted by the residential school system in Canada. Each element depicted on the flag was carefully selected by Survivors from across Canada, who were consulted in the flag’s creation.”

Read more about the Survivors’ Flag here.

Here are some things you can do:

  • We invite you to read the Calls to Action and the Calls for Justice, engage in conversations, and more. The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation has a schedule of events for Reconciliation Week. 
  • Make a donation to the Indian Residential School Survivors Society.
  • Former senator and chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Murray Sinclair states that “reconciliation cannot come from a place where the non-Indigenous people think they are being benevolent.” He also notes that reconciliation will take 7 generations, and Indigenous peoples are doing all the heavy lifting. You are invited to watch this powerful interview with Murray Sinclair.
  • Check out the CLEBC Reconciliation resources on this page, and watch the Indigenous Women and the Law Conference recordings, “But I Was Wearing a Suit” and more.
  • Buy yourself an orange shirt from Native Northwest!

On National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and every day, there are many more things you can do to educate yourself. Please take time to listen, and learn, and take action on Reconciliation.

In the wise words of  The Honourable Murray Sinclair,
“Education is what got us into this mess, and education will get us out.”