Just last year, the Canadian government declared September 30 as the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation to honour the children who never returned home from residential schools, the Survivors of those schools, as well as their families and communities.
This day coincides with Orange Shirt Day, which is an Indigenous-led, grassroots, commemorative day that also raises awareness about Canada’s residential school system. It was inspired by the heart-wrenching story of Phyllis Webstad, which explains the symbolic meaning of the orange shirt.
In each case, September 30 is recognized nation-wide as a day to acknowledge the intergenerational trauma caused by residential schools, raise awareness and support for Survivors, and to honour the thousands of Indigenous children who never made it home.
While distinct from Mi’kmaq History Month, which we celebrate in October, September 30 is an important day to observe just before Mi’kmaq History Month officially begins. It acknowledges the very real damage colonialism and colonial practices have had on Indigenous peoples, including the Mi’kmaq. At the same time, it provides context on the importance of maintaining, uplifting, and celebrating Indigenous heritage and culture.
Observing this day will help as all reconcile the past as we move forward throughout October in a spirit of celebration and appreciation of the rich culture of the Mi’kmaq.
If you’d like to know more about Orange Shirt Day, we highly recommend that you watch some of the National Film Board of Canada’s collection of films, all available to view for free online.
Here are a few other things you can do to observe this important day:
- Attend local events and learning opportunities
- On Friday, September 30, watch the Mi’kmaq History Month projection show at Grafton Park that highlights this year’s theme, “Mi’kmaw Beadwork & the Art of Beading”
- Read reports from the Truth and Reconciliation Commision of Canada and the 94 Calls to Action
- Attend the Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre’s Weekend of Reconciliation events
- Learn about the Treaties that are in place where you live at Native-Land.ca
- Donate to the Indian Residential School Survivors Society (IRSSS)
- Visit our page on Truth and Reconciliation