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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".

It was originally proposed in 2015 by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, which under Action 80 called upon the federal government, in collaboration with Aboriginal peoples, to establish a statutory holiday "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 2013, September 30th was also observed 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.

Land Acknowledgement

Vaughan Public Libraries respectfully acknowledge that our Libraries were built upon the Territory and Treaty lands of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation per the Toronto Purchase agreement or Treaty 13.

We also recognize we are situated in the traditional territory of the Huron Wendat and the Haudenosaunee who occupied this land before the arrival of European settlers.

The City of Vaughan is currently home to many First Nations, Inuit and Métis people. We acknowledge their contributions to the life and prosperity of this land.

As representatives of the people of the City of Vaughan, we are grateful to have the opportunity to work and live in this territory.

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.

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.

Programs at VPL

Women in Leadership

Conversations on Social Inclusion: Women in Leadership
Monday, September 19th, 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm
This program will be hosted live on Zoom

Register on EventBrite

Leading our next series of lectures on Social Inclusion is a presentation on Women in Leadership by Selena Mills, Project Manager, Health Transformation and Communications Strategist @ The Centre for Wise Practices in Indigenous Health, Women's College Hospital. Selena will share with us her experiences in and advocacy for Indigenous health and medical education.

This presentation is part of a lecture series that aspires to showcase the achievement of successful women who can share their experiences, discuss unique challenges and opportunities faced in their field and empower the next generation of leaders.

Between the Lines

Between the Lines: A DEI Book Club
Author Visit with Michelle Good
Tuesday, September 27th, 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm
This program will be hosted live on Zoom

Register on EventBrite

Award winning Cree author Michelle Good joins us for an engaging discussion about her debut novel, Five Little Indians, which won a Governor General's Literary Award in 2020. Five Little Indians follows five friends upon being released after years of detention and trauma at a church residential school. Together, these residential school survivors are on a journey to come to terms with their past, learning to survive by depending on each other.

Michelle Good is of Cree ancestry, a descendent of the Battle River Cree and a member of the Red Pheasant Cree Nation. She has worked with indigenous organizations since she was a teenager and at forty decided to approach that work in a different way obtaining her law degree from UBC at 43. She has practiced law in the public and private sector since then, primarily advocating for Residential School Survivors.

Digital Resources

Truth and Reconciliation Week 2022
National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation
September 26 to 30

The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation is hosting a national event for students grade 1-12. The theme this year is "Remembering the Children". This event will include conversations about treaties and land claims, the residential school 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.

Spirit Bear's Guide to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada 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.

Beyond 94
CBC Canada

Beyond 94 measures the progress of the 94 Calls to Action as outlined in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s report.

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.

Legacy of Hope

Legacy of Hope is a national, Indigenous-led charity whose goal is to educate about the history and ongoing legacy of the Residential School System on Indigenous survivors, their descendants, and their communities.

Indigenous Authors and Illustrators on National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

Join bestselling children's authors and illustrators, Jay Odjick (illustrator of Blackflies & Bear for Breakfast, written by Robert Munsch) and Michael Hutchinson (author of the Mighty Muskrats Mystery series) for this special pre-recorded library presentation. These videos were made in partnership with the Libraries of Durham and York Region. The videos will be available on September 30th at 11:00 AM EST.

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.