Observing National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

By Laura Bhoi, CEO, Renascent

Friday, September 30th, is the second annual National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in Canada. Although not recognized in Ontario as a statutory holiday, Renascent recognizes this day as one, in alignment with Call to Action 80 from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s report.

This day is of great importance, as we honour the lost children and Survivors of residential schools, their family members, and communities. We strongly encourage everyone to take the time to learn more about the painful and damaging impact of Canada’s residential school legacy, and the continued intergenerational trauma that impacts Indigenous People today.

Understanding and education is an essential part of the reconciliation process. To quote Honorable Murray Sinclair, “Education is what got us into this mess, and education will get us out.”

Increasing our Learning and Understanding
Below are a list of resources we encourage everyone to explore to increase our collective knowledge and understanding:

  • Ne’iikaanigaana: Creating safer environments for Indigenous Peoples: Recording The Indigenous Primary Health Care Council held a webinar to provide Ontario Health Teams with a with a preliminary understanding of key Indigenous Cultural Safety principles and share resources that will support them in creating safer environments for Indigenous clients, communities, and staff members.
  • Cash Back: A Yellowhead Institute Red Paper. Cash Back is about the value of Indigenous lands. Picking up from Land Back, the first Red Paper by Yellowhead about the project of land reclamation, Cash Back looks at how the dispossession of Indigenous lands nearly destroyed Indigenous economic livelihoods. Cash Back is about restitution from the perspective of stolen wealth.
  • Reclaiming Power and Place: The Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. The National Inquiry’s Final Report reveals that persistent and deliberate human and Indigenous rights violations and abuses are the root cause behind Canada’s staggering rates of violence against Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA people.

Wearing Orange
We also encourage everyone to wear orange on September 30th, aligning with Orange Shirt Day.

Orange Shirt Day is an Indigenous-led grassroots commemorative day that honours the children who survived Indian Residential Schools and remembers those who did not. This day relates to the experience of Phyllis Webstad, a Northern Secwpemc (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. It is now a symbol of the stripping away of culture, freedom and self-esteem experienced by Indigenous children over generations. (This paragraph sourced from Government of Canada website.) 

Honouring this Day in Our Centres and Programs
We will be acknowledging and honouring National Day of Truth and Reconciliation in our centres and our programs with our clients. In our Centres and Virtual Programs, we will share a formal acknowledgement of the day with our clients. In our Centres, we will also incorporate the live national broadcast of Remembering the children – a one-hour national commemorative gathering that will be broadcast live from Ottawa’s LeBreton Flats on September 30, 2022.

Community Events
We encourage those who will not be in our Centres to tune in to this broadcast, or participate in other commemorative activities on this day. Below is a listing of some virtual events and events going on in Toronto and Durham:

  • There are several events happening in Toronto on Sept. 30.
  • Brock Township Public Library is hosting a reflection and learning event for all ages on Sept. 30 from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Beaverton library branch at 401 Simcoe St. Indigenous educator Gail Johnston will talk about the residential school system and lead participants on a story walk of the book “Phyllis’ Orange Shirt” by Phyllis Webstad. Participants will also take part in a promise activity.
  • Oshawa Public Libraries hosts Alderville First Nation author Brian Beaver from 2 to 3 p.m. on Sept. 30 at the McLaughlin branch at 65 Bagot St. Beaver will speak about his book on the history of Alderville First Nation and the significance of its lands and people. In honour of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, he will also share his knowledge of the history of residential schools. Copies of Beaver’s book will be available for purchase.
  • National Centre of Truth and Reconciliation is holding Truth and Reconciliation Week. The programming will feature short videos created by Indigenous storytellers, followed by conversations with Elders, Knowledge Keepers, Survivors, and the children of Survivors of residential schools.

Renascent’s Ongoing Work

In addition to Call to Action 80, there are other Calls to Action that are directly linked to our work as health care providers. In Calls to Action 18 and 19, Indigenous health outcomes are addressed. Both acknowledge the significant disparities in the health of Indigenous People is a result of previous wrongs and that the gaps need to be closed – including in the area of addiction care and treatment. Call to Action 22 outlines the value of Indigenous  healing practices and the need for them to be incorporated into the health care system to treat Indigenous  patients.

The above are all Calls to Action that Renascent is committed to addressing as part of our continuous path toward reconciliation. Our recent partnership with M’Wikwedong Indigenous Friendship Centre (MIFC) is one small but important way in which or organization is working toward bringing more equity and inclusivity to program and service delivery. That said, we acknowledge that there is much more work to be done in these areas and our path to reconciliation needs to be ongoing. 

About the Authors

Renascent Staff
The staff at Renascent is passionate about helping people with substance addictions so they can reach their full recovery – with compassion, respect, empathy and understanding. Our staff includes our counsellors, all of whom have lived experience of addiction and recovery.