National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

September 30 is the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and Orange Shirt Day

The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation was first observed in 2021 and although it is not recognized as a holiday in the province of Quebec, it is a federal statutory holiday that was created through legislative amendments made by Parliament.

Orange Shirt Day is a grassroots commemorative day that was created in 2013 by Phyllis Webstad who is Northern Secwpemc (Shuswap) from the Stswecem’c Xgat’tem First Nation (Canoe Creek Indian Band) and a residential school survivor.  

Whether it is called the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation or Orange Shirt Day, the day recognizes and honours the children who never returned home, the survivors of residential schools, and the families and communities who were forever impacted by the forcible separation of children from their homes. During the separation of children from their homes and communities, they were forbidden and punished for speaking their own languages and retaining any vestiges of their Indigenous heritages and cultures.

As part of the public commemoration of the painful history and impacts of residential schools, people across Canada are encouraged to wear orange to honour the Indigenous peoples and communities who suffered at the hands of this government and church endorsed system.

Across the country, hundreds of activities will commemorate the history and legacy of residential schools.

The day's activities

A great-grandfather’s story

Concordia’s senior director of Indigenous Directions, Manon Tremblay, anêhiyaw iskwêw (Plains Cree woman) shares her great-grandfather’s story who tamed and sold wild horses to local farmers and labourers at a time when Indigenous people couldn’t leave the reserve without travel documents.

left image: man and his sons. right image: Doukhobors manually plowing their fields Left: James Greyeyes, front row centre, with his four sons. Right: Doukhobors manually plowing their fields.

On a bright spring day in 1909, my great grandfather, James Greyeyes, set out to capture wild horses on the Plains of Saskatchewan. He was one of the few Cree people who was free to travel off reserve, at a time when First Nations people were forbidden to leave without travel documents. This is because he and the Indian Agent that oversaw the affairs of our community had struck a deal. James caught wild horses, tamed them and sold them to local farmers and labourers. Trading in horses was how James fed his family. He bought his freedom from the Pass System by giving the Indian Agent a cut of the profits.

Read James Greyeyes's story

Spotlight on Concordia's EV and AD buildings

Concordia participates in Light the Country Orange headed by the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR). The initiative encourages communities across Canada to light the exterior of their buildings orange to honour the Indigenous children sent to residential schools in Canada.  

Concordia’s EV and AD buildings will be illuminated in orange light on September 30 from 7 to 11:30 p.m.

SGW Campus EV building
Loyola Campus AD building

Pîkiskwêtân (Let's Talk)
Indigenous Directions learning series

Between September 2022 and June 2023, Indigenous Directions will host a series of workshops to help participants learn about First Nations, Inuit and Métis realities and gain a better understanding of the meaning and the implications of reconciliation, decolonization and indigenization. The workshops will continue to be offered in a virtual, webinar format.

Learn more about this series
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