Truth and Reconciliation: Get Involved in the Healing Process

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Truth and Reconciliation Day is a new federal holiday to recognize and honour Canada’s residential school survivors, and the painful, ongoing impact residential schools have had on generations of Indigenous Peoples and their communities.


Working internally with our team to find the best way to actively observe Truth and Reconciliation Day, we are running a week-long education program, and we’d like to share some of our curated resources with you.


We understand that you want to show up for your Indigenous friends and neighbours, and you might find that at first, the most you can do is hold space for the Indigenous Peoples in your community, and listen with an open mind and heart. We hope you find this resource list a helpful tool in support of your journey towards understanding and healing.

Observe from Wherever You Are

The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR) preserves the record of human rights abuses perpetrated against Indigenous, Métis, and Inuit Canadians, while continuing the research started by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. As you explore the archives, you can also order many different publications; such the Calls to Action booklet, which contains the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 10 principles of Reconciliation, the 94 calls to action, and the 46 articles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The NCTR is also hosting a series of live, free events featuring short videos created by Indigenous storytellers; as well as conversations with Elders, knowledge keepers, survivors, and their children.


The Assembly of First Nations created a toolkit to bring together First Nations and non-First Nations people to foster a spirit of co-operation, understanding, and action. It features a series of learning modules available in PDF form.


You can also watch on-demand sessions from the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada’s 2021 International Indigenous Architecture and Design Symposium.


Looking to the arts, we recommend exploring Canadian Indigenous cinema, with titles such as:


  • We are Children
  • Atanarjuat
  • Reel Injun
  • Indian Horse
  • Blood Quantum
  • The Starlight Tours
  • Inconvenient Indian


Many will want to take part in person-to-person practices for Truth and Reconciliation. In some of Canada’s major cities, you’ll find public commemorative events, and we’ve collected a few here, based on the cities where we live and work. Wearing an orange shirt on September 30 is something you can do from anywhere.


Truth and Reconciliation in Vancouver

On September 29, you’re invited to the BC Non-Profit Housing Association’s Indigenous Perspective Workshop – Dispelling Myths and Stereotypes.


You can also take part in Drum for the Children, an online collaborative event started by the Tk’emlúps te Secwe̓pemc people of British Columbia, which can be joined from anywhere in the world.

Truth and Reconciliation in Victoria

If you’re in the BC capital, you’re invited to take part in a ceremony at Centennial Square. More details will be available closer to September 30 on the Victoria Orange Shirt Day website.

Truth and Reconciliation in Calgary

City operations and services will run on a reduced schedule for the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation, as staff are encouraged to take the day to reflect. Public commemorative events will be posted on the city of Calgary’s website closer to September 30.

Truth and Reconciliation in Toronto

University of Toronto’s Hart House is running a virtual Orange Shirt event for National Truth and Reconciliation Day, in honour of Phyllis Webstad, who was forced to give up the orange shirt she was wearing and put on the institutional uniform of a residential school. This was in 1973; she was six years old. Young Phyllis’ shirt became an enduring symbol for the fight for justice.

Truth and Reconciliation in Edmonton

On September 30, Edmonton’s High-Level Bridge will be lit in orange as the city is encouraged to reflect upon the legacy of Indian Residential Schools.


Wherever you are in Canada, you can also seek out and support the Indigenous artists and business in your city or town.

Collaboration and Creation with Indigenous Peoples

Kasian’s collaborative practice with Indigenous communities is based on listening: we’ve learned though experience how powerful the act of listening can be.


Red Crow Community College is Canada’s first tribal college, a pioneer in delivering education rooted in Blackfoot culture to meet the needs of the students, Elders and the broader community. We worked with the Blackfoot community as they broke this institution’s shackles to the residential-school past, rebuilding a facility that encompassed the college’s values and contributed to growth and sustainability. It was an incredible journey for us to learn through this entire experience: to understand Red Crow Community College’s approach to education and training, learn about Blackfoot cultural values, rituals, relationships, and spiritual beliefs, and discover what this campus means to the greater community.


In creating Stanton Territorial Hospital in the heart of the Northwest Territories, we sought wisdom from all 14 First Nations who steward the land on which we were to build. This place of healing offers its community a full spectrum of high-tech and traditional medicine, including a sacred space in the heart of the building for Indigenous healing ceremonies. Extensive workshops and guided research ensured that our design choices were correctly informed by traditional healing practices and authentically represented the colours and motifs of the region’s Indigenous populations.


Our work with Vancouver International Airport (YVR) over the past 25 years has engaged and paid tribute to the Indigenous peoples of British Columbia’s lower mainland, sharing their rich history and the Lower Mainland’s stunning natural beauty with visitors from around the world.


Since 2005, we have also helped fund the YVR Art Foundation Emerging Artist Scholarship Program. This program lifts up young Indigenous artists who are based in British Columbia and Yukon, helping them to study or work with a mentor artist or attend an art school, helping them network and learn what it takes to thrive as full-time professional artists.

Take That First Step

We’re entering the period of the harvest moon, which is timely for many Indigenous cultures: the moon teaches us to accept the truth through gentleness and kindness. The energy of the moon brings what is in the darkness to light just as we enlighten ourselves with new knowledge.


As our own journey progresses, we never stop learning—the knowledge and conversations that emerge from this week will build a foundation for future learning and healing. Each one of us can make a difference as we listen to our Indigenous brothers’ and sisters’ stories, learn, and walk the path alongside them. Whatever you do, make it thoughtful.

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