Reconciliation Day in BC: How should the day be spent?

Whether you’re attending a public event or deepening your private reflections, the people of British Columbia plan to mark their first National Truth and Reconciliation Day.

Article content

For Cree author Darrel McLeod, this Thursday will be a day of remembrance and reflection.


Article content

“I think of the children who lost their lives in residential schools, those who did not make it home, and those who suffered horribly and survived. I don’t want that to be in vain. “

McLeod, whose memoir Peyakow, is this year’s finalist Weston Award, said he hopes the gloomy day will eventually become “a celebration of life and hope” for indigenous youth.

“When I was a kid, I felt completely insignificant. As an indigenous person, I did not see my reality reflected in the arts, culture or literature. I hope these two days Orange shirt day and the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation will give indigenous youth the opportunity to see that they are important ”.

September 30 is Canada’s first National Truth and Reconciliation Day. In 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission called for a day to commemorate the brutal legacy of Canada’s residential schools.


Article content

In June, shortly after the grim discovery of the remains of 215 children buried at the site of the former Kamloops Indian residential school in Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation, the federal government passed legislation to create a legal holiday for federal government employees and federally regulated workplaces. In British Columbia, the holiday is not mandatory, but most public schools, postsecondary institutions, and government offices will be closed.

Whether they have the day off or not, there are many ways Canadians can mark the day and deepen their understanding of the legacy of residential school.

Brenda Gunn, director of research for the National Center for Truth and Reconciliation, said the organization received a flurry of inquiries for information after the discovery at the former residential school site. “There is renewed interest in seeing more actions related to reconciliation, more interest in gaining an understanding of residential schools.”


Article content

On the occasion of the week, the center offers a variety of live broadcast programming on culture and indigenous issues.

Urszula Lipsztajn, a Squamish resident whose family immigrated to Canada from Poland in 1985, He said his path to understanding has been through listening and learning.

“If Canada is our home, it means that we take care of it and we care about the problems that are part of the home,” Lipsztain said.

On Thursday, Lipsztain will be reaching out to indigenous friends, continue reading the Report of murdered and disappeared indigenous girls, and will make a donation to the Residential School Survival Society.

Ta7talíya Nahanee, who created a set of mini-courses on cultural protocols and decolonizing practices, he said he hopes non-indigenous Canadians will find their own ways to make the day meaningful.


Article content

“Try not to put emotional work on indigenous people in your life. Read the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, read indigenous literature, look for learning opportunities ”.

Professor Shannon Leddy leads an orange sweater knitting project at UBC in Vancouver.
Professor Shannon Leddy leads an orange sweater knitting project at UBC in Vancouver. Photo by Jason Payne. /PNG

Shannon Leddy, an assistant professor in the UBC College of Education and a member of Métis Nation, said she understands both indigenous and non-indigenous perspectives in dealing with Canada’s difficult history.

Leddy, who created a Decolonization of Teaching and Indigenization of Learning Website, said: “There are several ways that non-indigenous people can participate in this dialogue. Enter through music, enter through literature, or marches and rallies and public events ”.

This year, Leddy is knitting a tiny orange sweater as part of the Tiny Orange Sweater Project, an initiative that aims to create small sweaters as a visual representation of the care of the 215 children buried in the Kamloops residential school.


Article content

“This opportunity to create a visual representation was important to me. WWhat does a sweater mean? It means care, warmth and comfort. ” Leddy said.

Regardless of how we mark the day, Leddy said, “it is incumbent upon us all to grapple with this difficult knowledge together.”

[email protected]

Some ways to commemorate

• Vancouver: XWEÝENE: MSTA: M? AKWASQWEL, SEE, a performance honoring Orange Shirt Day on Thursday, combining traditional Coast Salish song and garb with contemporary music and performances, presented at the Vancouver Art Gallery beginning at noon. Free and open to the public.

• Surrey: The Skookum Surrey ceremony at Holland Park is an afternoon of storytelling, drums, bannock and tea. At 13428 Old Yale Rd., Runs from 2 pm to 4 pm, hosted by the Surrey Urban Indigenous Committee in partnership with the City of Surrey and SFU Surrey. Attendees are encouraged to wear orange shirts and bring their drums.

• New Westminster: A National Truth and Reconciliation Day event will be held at Westminster Pier Park from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm The Spirit of the Children Society will host a pipe ceremony to honor lost children and survivors of residential schools, their families and communities. All ages are welcome to this free family event. Please wear a mask.



Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civilized discussion forum and encourages all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments can take up to an hour to moderate before appearing on the site. We ask that you keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications – you will now receive an email if you receive a response to your comment, there is an update from a comment thread you follow, or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Principles for more information and details on how to adjust your E-mail settings.

Leave a Comment