Sena Nakajima/Staff reporter
On September 30, 2021, Canada will have its first National Truth and Reconciliation Day to respect the lost children and the survivors of residential schools, their families, and their community.
Although this day was first proposed in 2015 by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, this year will be the first time it will be regarded as a statutory holiday, a public holiday recognised by the federal government.
Provincial workers and schools will not need to go to work or school in provinces and territories such as British Columbia, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, and the Northwest Territories. Instead, they will be encouraged to spend the day attending events such as story sharing and panel discussions and learn about Canada’s first nations.
This day was chosen because this was the time of year when indigenous children were taken from their families and forced to attend residential schools.
September 30th has been Orange Shirt Day since 2013. The colour orange represents the new orange shirt that was taken away from an Indigenous girl attending a residential school. Now, it represents the stripping away of culture, freedom, and self-esteem.
The official name for National Truth and Reconciliation Day is ‘An Act to amend the Bills of Exchange Act, the Interpretation Act and the Canada Labour Code’. The parliament has made this statutory holiday through legislative amendments.
“I feel sorry for them. It was a dark history as Indigenous people were treated with inequality and unfairness. The children were stolen and separated from their families and were sent to residential schools. They were told that western culture was better than theirs and the Indigenous culture couldn’t be mentioned and weren’t allowed to speak in their first language. They shouldn’t be treated like that,” said Zoey Liu, grade 9.
Students have mixed opinions about not having to go to school. “We don’t have to go to school on days such as Canada Day, Remembrance Day, Thanksgiving, and so on, so we need the day out of school in order to perceive this day with the same importance as all those days. On the other hand, we cannot learn about this day at school on the actual day, but students can get educated about this in school prior to this day, and on the day, they can participate in events related to Truth and Reconciliation Day,” Zoey Liu added.
There were many events in June, July, and August leading into this day.