Daniel Jee / Staff reporter

On June 5, 2021, National Truth and Reconciliation Day was officially marked as a statutory holiday that honors the children, the survivors, families and communities who were affected by the residential school system.

The day has its roots in the history that more than 150,000 First Nations, Metis and Inuit children were forced to attend church-run, government-funded schools between the 1870s and 1997.

Coercing to learn English, Christianity, and the customs of Canada’s white majority was enacted for the children who were removed from their community to eradicate the Indigenous language and culture during the period.

Residential School

There were physical, sexual, or psychological abuses as a part of the effort for the same purpose.

“I feel really sad for those young students who would have their dreams and hope like me,” said David Jee, a grade 9 Gleneagle Secondary school student after the education time about the history.

In 2017, 20 years after the closing of the last residential school, the first bill to make National Day for Truth and Reconciliation was introduced by Saskatchewan MP Georgina Jolibois.

And now, September 30 is National Truth and Reconciliation Day which is marked as a day off for students in BC.

Federally regulated workplaces can have a day off meaning that banks, post offices, and government offices are closed on this day.

Private companies and organizations can also have a day off depending on their decision whether or not to recognize Nation Day for Truth and Reconciliation with a day off.

People walking on Truth and Reconciliation Day

Although this day has been designated as a public holiday, you can participate in various events to reflect on the meaning of this day.

“I learned about Truth and Reconciliation Day and wore an orange t-shirt to honor it,” said Hanna Kim, who came to Canada a year and a half ago. “I didn’t know about this day before, but I was curious what it is when I heard it is a day off on Sep 30.”

Memorials, educational and cultural events will be held in communities across Canada on that day, and the Department of Canadian Heritage is encouraging Canadians to read and reflect on the legacy of residential schools.

Residential schools no longer exist, but history will now be remembered annually from September 30, 2021.