September 30th, 2021 will mark the first National Day of Truth and Reconciliation in Canada. This new federal statutory holiday builds on the legacy of Orange Shirt Day, a grassroots campaign to commemorate Survivors of residential schools and to create meaningful discussion about the effects of residential schools and the legacy they have left behind.
The National Day of Truth and Reconciliation in Canada is a response to the Call to Action #80 in the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Call to Action #80 called for a federal statutory day to “honour Survivors, their families, and communities, and ensure that public commemoration of the history and legacy of residential schools remains a vital component of the reconciliation process.”.
Since the spring of 2021, thousands of unmarked graves have been confirmed at the sites of former residential schools. It is likely that many more will be found as searches continue, validating survivors’ accounts. These graves sparked a national conversation, bringing reconciliation to the forefront of public discourse, and revealed Canada’s shameful history of systemic racism and violence against Indigenous people.
It is vital that Canadians learn and know about the historic and ongoing systemic discrimination of Indigenous peoples in Canada as a first step towards reconciliation and the elimination of systemic discrimination. The Yukon Human Rights Commission commits to providing educational resources on its website, and calls on all Yukoners to educate themselves and to engage in acts of allyship and reconciliation. The Commission also has a free public library with several books on these topics. Please contact us if you would like to borrow a book.
This year, only employees of the Government of Yukon and of federally regulated employers will be guaranteed a paid day off. This means that many Indigenous people will not get the day off, and may face additional burdens such as finding childcare with the schools closed. The Yukon Human Rights Commission calls on the Government of Yukon to work closely with First Nations and Indigenous people to ensure that in the future all Indigenous people in Yukon have the opportunity to commemorate this important day.
The Commission encourages all Yukoners to take time on September 30th to reflect on the historic and ongoing oppression, violence, and discrimination that Indigenous people in Canada face, and what you can do to honour truth and advance reconciliation in your life. Below are some links to resources, events, and initiatives for this National Day of Truth and Reconciliation in Yukon.
Be an Ally!
Watch and listen!