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Sept. 30 to be National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

Also known as Orange Shirt Day, Sept. 30 has been designated as National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. Federally employed workers and public servants have the day off, and non-essential government services and schools will be closed for the day. 

Previously, Sept. 30 was called Orange Shirt Day, and it was created to spread awareness about residential schools in 2013. It was not a holiday; however, people were encouraged to wear orange support and understand what happened in residential schools. Phyllis Webstad, a residential school survivor, was the inspiration behind the orange colour. At the age of six, she wore an orange shirt her grandmother had given her on the first day of school. When she arrived at school, the shirt was taken away from her by school staff, never seen again. The stolen shirt symbolizes how the schools stole Indigenous culture and identity from the children. As for the date, Sept. 30 was chosen because it was the time of year when Indigenous children were removed from their families and taken to the schools.

In May of this year, over 1,500 children’s remains were found near former residential schools. More remains are expected to be found; according to their estimates, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada says there are around 3,200 unmarked graves. Shortly after this discovery, in June, the federal government passed legislation making Sept. 30 a holiday and calling it National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. It is a paid holiday for all public and private federal workers. The goal of the holiday is to let people reflect and think of the injustices done against First Nations peoples. 

The statutory holiday will not affect provincial employees or other non-federal workers unless the province passes legislation making it so.

 Manitoba has decided to recognize the holiday and will allow provincially employed public servants to observe the holiday. There will be no classes held as schools will be closed for the day. The Minister of Indigenous Reconciliation and Northern Relations Hon. Alan Lagimodiere said in a statement, “We all have a role to play in reconciliation. We can all listen, learn, and support the healing needed to address the intergenerational trauma caused by the residential school system.” On the date, all flags will be lowered to half-mast.

“Canada has embarked on a journey of reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. A fundamental part of this journey is the process of truth telling, healing, and recognizing past injustices.” – Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada.

– Michael Spivak, U Multicultural

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of U Multicultural.

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