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National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

September 30th is the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

This day is an opportunity for Canadians to "recognize and commemorate the legacy of residential schools". September 30th was also observed since 2013 as Orange Shirt Day, involving the wearing of orange to honour the Indigenous children who were forcibly removed from their families to attend residential schools. To help you understand the importance of this new holiday, below is a collection of resources and recommendations for further learning.

If you’re unfamiliar with this new holiday and the issues involved, the following post in our blog is a great place to start.

Blog Post

National Day for Truth and Reconciliation
By Shelly Zevlever

Digital Resources

Truth and Reconciliation Week 2021
National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation
September 27 to October 1

The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation is hosting a five-day national event for teachers and classes. This event will include conversations about treaties and land claims, the residential schools system, and will also feature a moving tribute to children who never returned home from residential schools.

National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation Exhibits

The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation hosts digital exhibits on their website, containing various documents and materials that show how residential schools were operated, their legacy on generations of Indigenous peoples and communities. It is vital for Canadians to review these materials and stories to help foster reconciliation and ensure that the legacy of residential schools is never forgotten.

Indigenous Canada on Coursera
University of Alberta through Coursera

Sign up for a free, online course about an Indigenous experience of Canada. This course goes through the history of Indigenous peoples from pre-contact, as well as contact with settlers, to present day movements like Idle No More.

National Student Memoir Register
National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation

The National Student Memorial Register was developed by the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation to remember and honour the children that never returned from residential schools. On this memorial you can learn more about the schools that were operating, and recognize the children and the pain inflicted on families and communities.

Child Friendly Guide to the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action
First Nations Child & Family Caring Society of Canada

The First Nations Child and Family Caring Society has developed a child friendly guide to the Truth and Reconciliation, which parents and educators can use when teaching their children about this topic.

Learn an Indigenous Language
Transparent Language

Start learning a new language today! Transparent Languages offers several different Indigenous languages among its offerings, including Cree, several different Ojibwe dialects, Michif, and Oji-Cree. This site requires a Vaughan Public Libraries card to sign in.

Orange Shirt Day

The annual Orange Shirt Day on September 30th opens the door to global conversations on all aspects of Residential Schools. It is an opportunity to create meaningful discussion about the effects of Residential Schools and the legacy they left behind.

Indian Residential School Survivors Society

The Indian Residential School Survivors Society (IRSSS) is a provincial organization with a twenty-year history of providing services to Indian Residential School Survivors.


Documentary stories of Residential School survivors

Indigenous Authors on National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

Join bestselling, award-winning children’s authors David A. Robertson (The Barren Grounds, On the Trapline), Melanie Florence (Stolen Words, Just Lucky), and Jay Odjick (illustrator of Blackflies and Bear for Breakfast, written by Robert Munsch) for this special prerecorded library presentation, premiering on September 30.

Recommended Reads

This list of books contains memoirs from people who attended residential schools in Canada, non-fiction accounts of the lasting legacy and intergenerational trauma that these schools have had on the Indigenous community, and fiction about characters surviving the trauma of these schools.

The books in this list are written for children about residential schools and the legacy of residential schools for Indigenous people.

In June, Canada celebrated National Indigenous History Month all month long, and National Indigenous Peoples Day on June 21st, celebrating the heritage, diverse cultures and outstanding achievements of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. These titles have been chosen in celebration, but also to learn about reconciliation efforts, and the effects that Canadian colonialism has had on these peoples throughout history.

We are all broken-hearted as we hear the latest horrific news about residential schools in Canada. When we read books by Aboriginal and Indigenous authors, we come a step closer to an understanding of this part of our history, and a step closer to the hope of healing. This list does not deal specifically about the residential school story, though it is included. We see commentary and fiction, stories and observations about the world offered through an Indigenous or Aboriginal lens.

A Note About Our Collection

In 2021, Vaughan Public Libraries adopted new subject headings relating to Indigenous people and places. The new search terms were created by the Greater Victoria Public Library in conjunction and consultation with Indigenous groups, the intention being to move away from traditional subject headings that refer to Indigenous people in outdated, colonial ways. These more accurate and respectful search terms will be included for all new items that enter the libraries’ collections as well as updating existing material in the catalogue. It is a work in progress. Working closely with our vendors, we will continue to look for ways to open up the catalogue and remove bias as encountered, building towards a collection that is more welcoming and representative of the world today.