September 30, 2021 marks the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. The discoveries of the graves of children at former residential schools remind us of the devastating impact these schools had and continue to have on Indigenous communities and individuals. On this national day of reflection, we remember and mourn for these children and for the generations of Indigenous people hurt by the residential school system. The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is a direct response to Call to Action 80, which called for a federal statutory day of commemoration.
We recognize Orange Shirt Day, also held on this day to bring awareness to the history of residential schools and their negative effects on children’s self-esteem and well-being. Orange Shirt Day was first observed in 2013 at St. Joseph Mission in Williams Lake, British Columbia, where, in 1973, Phyllis (Jack) Webstad had her new orange shirt taken away on her first day of residential school. She never saw the shirt again.
We wear orange to show our commitment to recognizing and remembering the approximately 150,000 children forced to attend residential schools, where many experienced shame, deprivation, and abuse, as well as more than 6,000 students who did not survive.
In acknowledgement of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, we are highlighting a selection of books, ebooks and streaming video to help us learn more about the impact of residential schools.
The Brock University community is encouraged to reflect on the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.