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National Day for Truth & Reconciliation

September 30 now a Statutory Holiday in BC

For the first time this year, Canada's National Day for Truth and Reconciliation stands as a statutory holiday in British Columbia. While federal employees have received a statutory holiday since Bill C-5 came into force in 2021, this year BC passed legislation on March 9 creating a statutory holiday for all workers in the province. The provincial government has designated September 30 as a day to "honour the resilience, dignity and strength of survivors and intergenerational survivors and remember the children who never came home."


The designated date originated with Orange Shirt Day, which is a legacy established ten years ago by students who attended St. Jospeph Mission (SJM) Residential School in Williams Lake, BC. One of those students, six-year-old Phyllis (Jack) Webstad had her brand new orange shirt taken from her on her first day of school. Phyllis grew up to become a spokesperson for the children forced to attend SJM, and was a part of the group who established Orange Shirt Day in memory of her own experience. September 30 was chosen to commemorate the traditional time of year when Indigenous children were taken from their homes to residential schools across the country. The Orange Shirt Society also notes that this is the best time of year to "set the stage for anti-racism and anti-bullying policies for the coming school year."


While the day is meant to publicly acknowledge the history and harms the residential school system created, it's also a chance for British Columbians to deepen their understanding of the ongoing impact to Indigenous communities. Angela White, director of the Indian Residential School Survivor's Society calls on Canadians to educate themselves, to pick up books and watch movies and "not just rely on Indigenous people to be that voice."


To that end, here are a few ways to make this National Day of Truth and Reconciliation a meaningful one for your family:


  • BC's Knowledge Network has a channel of Indigenous-made films available for streaming HERE. These include Tanya Talaga's SPIRIT TO SOAR, filmed in the wake of the inquest into the deaths of seven teens in Thunder Bay, as well as BIRTH OF A FAMILY, which tells the story of four siblings separated in the 'Sixties Scoop', and many others.

  • Learn more about Phyllis Webstad and the Orange Shirt Society HERE. Donate HERE.

  • Indigenous writers have been featured this summer in The Watershed HERE and HERE, and a selection of Indigenous-made podcasts featured in our Settler Education 101 series just last week, HERE.

  • Donate to the Indian Residential School Survivor's Society HERE.

  • Join the Raven Trust, and donate HERE.

  • Locally, a march will be held in Squamish from 12:30-3:00 p.m. (see poster, below), with a parade starting from Winnipeg Street and Cleveland Ave, and ending at the O'Siyam Pavilion, where several speakers will be featured.

Have you got plans for the Day of National Truth and Reconciliation? Share your suggestions in the comments below, or email editor@lionsbaywatershed.ca






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