Oshawa, ON—Canada has to think deeply about the tragic history that surrounds residential schools and its effects on indigenous history. Sept. 30 marks the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in Canada.
The day honours the children who died at a residential school, those who survived, and their families and communities.
To recognize the day, Wolseley Canada will be creating the Wolseley Canada Indigenous Bursary to help indigenous students across Canada with funding for post-secondary education. “This is an important day to reflect on history and to consider how we can better support Indigenous communities,” says Sebastien Laforge, president of Wolseley Canada.
The bursary program is part of the Building Brighter Futures program, and provides funding for individual First Nation, Inuit and Metis students enrolled in full and part-time studies in college, university, skilled trades, apprenticeships, and technology programs. Partnered with Indspire, Wolseley has donated $25,000, which the Government of Canada will match for a total of $50,000.
The history behind National Day for Truth and Reconciliation
National Day for Truth and Reconciliation was approved as a new federal statutory holiday by parliament on June 3. This was only a few days after it was reported that roughly 200 burial sites were found on a former residential school in Kamloops, B.C.
“The Day for Truth and Reconciliation honours First Nations, Inuit and Métis survivors of residential schools, their families and communities. It is a day for everyone to reflect on the steps each of us can take to move toward reconciliation and healing,” said Rick Wilson, minister of indigenous relations.
In addition to the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, Sept. 30 also marks Orange Shirt Day, which is an Indigenous-led grassroots commemorative day that honours the children who survived residential schools and remembers those who died. This day relates to the experience of Phyllis Webstad, a Northern Secwepemc (Shuswap) from the Stswecem’c Xgat’tem First Nation, on her first day of school, where she arrived dressed in a new orange shirt, which was taken from her, states the Government of Canada.
To commemorate National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, buildings across Canada will be illuminated in orange. This will include federal buildings such as the Peace Tower on Parliament Hill.
Truth and Reconciliation Week will act as a five-day bilingual educational event for students in grades five through 12 and will feature Indigenous Elders, youth, and survivors. The event will be pre-recorded and web-casted.
The Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN) Sunrise Ceremony will present a pre-taped Sunrise ceremony featuring drummers, singers, Elders and various Indigenous traditions.
To commemorate the day, the Alberta government planted a tree on legislative grounds to represent growth and continuity, renewal and life. A reconciliation garden will be planted at the same site next year.