Centre for Suicide Prevention acknowledges National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, September 30, as a day to honour the lost children and Survivors of residential schools and their families and communities. Indigenous people have known and endured colonization and racism for many generations. “More than 150,000 children attended residential schools; many never returned” (National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation). This year, unmarked graves of First Nations children continued to be unearthed at former residential school sites. The collective trauma stemming from colonization continues to affect Indigenous people today, and the outcomes include higher suicide rates, homelessness, addictions and violence. We need to take action.
Anishinaabe writer, broadcaster, and arts leader Jesse Wente reminds us, in his book Unreconciled, “So much of the violence and inequality we face comes from pure ignorance… the solution is to spread the truth, to make the undeniable things undeniable for everyone. When we don’t have to waste time arguing about the undeniable facts of history, when we don’t have to expend emotional energy defending the undeniable fact that we’re human beings… only then will we be able to move on to acting against these injustices.”
Together, we are called to reconciliation, to make reparations with First Nations, Inuit and Metis. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s (TRC) final report lays out 94 Calls to Action for Canadians, at both the individual and the community level. Wente says, “Despite all that’s been done to Indigenous peoples, despite all that continue to be done to us and will be done to us today and tomorrow, we were here before Canada and we’ll be here long after it. Show us that the myth of this country can be replaced by truth, because, frankly, we have shown you enough. It’s your turn.” We have the truth, now we need action. How will you take action?
- Wear an orange shirt to raise awareness of the tragic legacy of residential schools and to honour the thousands of Survivors.
- Create space for Indigenous voices by sharing Indigenous initiatives on social media and limiting personal posting.
- Read the TRC Calls to Action and ask yourself how you can apply these calls to your life.
- Hold government officials accountable to the TRC by sending a letter asking that all the TRC Calls to Action be fulfilled.
- Smudge, pray for the children who were lost at residential schools and their families. The National Student Memorial Register has a listing of the names of some of the children lost.
- Acknowledge the land on which you live, play and work; visit Native-Land.ca to learn more.
- Learn about the history of residential schools.
- Vancouver Aboriginal Health Society has several additional action in this thread about NDTR.
Support is available:
- Indian Residential School Survivors Society at 1-800-721-0066
- Hope for Wellness line at 1-855-242-3310
- National Residential School Crisis Line at 1-866-925-4419