Truth and Reconciliation Resources
In 2021, the unmarked mass grave of 215 Indigenous children was discovered at the site of a Residential School in Kamloops. In the months that followed, this discovery brought new attention to the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the aim of which was to listen to the stories of the Residential School Survivors and acknowledge these voices. More graves would be discovered across Canada, and more voices were given space in the media to be heard.
One of the recommendations from the Commission was to create a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, as a day to reflect on and learn about the impact of residential school systems in Canada. In June of 2021, that day was declared to be recognized annually on September 30th by the federal government. The province of B.C. will also be recognizing this day: “Our government is calling on all of us who deliver services to the public to use this opportunity to consider what each of us can do as individuals to advance reconciliation with Indigenous peoples and to recommit to understanding the truth of our shared history, to accept and learn from it and in doing so, help to create a better, more inclusive British Columbia.”
Since 2013, September 30th has been known as Orange Shirt Day after the story shared by Residential School survivor Phyllis Jack Webstad, about her orange shirt being taken away when arriving at the school. This has become a symbol about how the identities of Indigenous children were stripped away with the goal of assimilation and the erasure of Indigenous culture. Please click the link to hear the story in her words.
Resources for learning for settlers and guests on this land:
Adult and Junior Book Lists
These lists feature Indigenous titles currently in the Library collection.
Truth and Reconciliation Commission and its Calls to Action
There were 140 federally run Indian Residential Schools which operated in Canada between 1831 and 1998. The last school closed only 23 years ago. Survivors advocated for recognition and reparations and demanded accountability for the lasting legacy of harms caused. These efforts culminated in:
- the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement
- apologies by the government
- the establishment of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission
- the creation of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission ran from 2008 to 2015 and provided those directly or indirectly affected by the legacy of the Indian Residential Schools policy with an opportunity to share their stories and experiences. The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation has become the permanent archive for the statements, documents and other materials the Commission gathered, and its library and collections are the foundation for ongoing learning and research.
The Commission released its final report detailing 94 calls to action. The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is a direct response to Call to Action 80, which called for a federal statutory day of commemoration.
Mental health supports available
Former Residential School students can call 1-866-925-4419 for emotional crisis referral services and information on other health supports from the Government of Canada.
Indigenous peoples across Canada can also go to The Hope for Wellness Help Line 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for counselling and crisis intervention.
To learn more
This National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, explore the rich and diverse cultures, voices, experiences and stories of the First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples. Whether you want to read, listen, watch, or try, start your learning journey today.