How to mark the 1st National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in Ottawa

The first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is this Thursday. For those wondering how to observe it in the capital, here are a few suggestions. 

The day has been set aside to learn and reflect on the legacy of residential schools

The creation of the new federal statutory holiday was approved by Parliament days after the Tk'emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation confirmed the discovery of roughly 200 potential burial sites, likely of children, on the site of a former residential school in Kamloops, B.C. (CBC/Radio-Canada)

The first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is this Thursday, and for those wondering how to observe it in the capital, here are a few suggestions. 

The day was made a federal statutory holiday earlier this year. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommended it in its 94 calls to action.

It honours the children who died while attending residential schools and the survivors, families and communities still affected by the system's legacy.

Sept. 30 is also Orange Shirt Day, which remembers the story of Phyllis Webstad, a former residential school student who had her orange shirt taken away on her first day at residential school.

Across the country, people are encouraged to wear orange to spread awareness, support an Indigenous-run business or organization if they can and take time to learn and reflect. 

The Ottawa region is home to an estimated 40,000 urban First Nations, Inuit and Métis people, according to the City of Ottawa, and a number of commemorative events are planned in the city. 

CBC's Beyond 94 project is keeping tabs on the federal government's progress on the calls to action. A full day of coverage is also planned. Find out how to tune in here

Orange fabric cut in the shape of shirts is pinned to string during a vigil in Ottawa June 5, 2021 to honour the 215 children whose remains were believed to found at the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)

Virtual events and education

  • The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation has created a full week of online programming that runs until Oct. 1. There will be short videos by and followed conversations with elders, residential school survivors and their children.
  • On Wednesday from 7 to 8 p.m., the Ottawa Public Library is hosting a virtual event called Kìyàbadj kidandanizimin. We are still here. Jenny Buckshot Tenasco, a residential school survivor, and her daughter Anita Tenasco — both members of the Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg community — will share reflections on how Canada's residential school system has impacted First Nations education, poverty, systematic racism, mental health, strength and resilience. 
  • The Ottawa Public Library also has a list of resources to learn more here.
  • The National Arts Centre is running online workshops until Wednesday on the revitalization of Indigenous languages, beading, powwow dance, land acknowledgements and how non-Indigenous individuals can become better allies. Its online resources include videos and colouring pages.

In-person commemorations

  • The Indigenous Arts Collective of Canada has planned a day of remembrance activities starting at 10 a.m. and running until 5 p.m. Remember Me: National Day of Remembrance will start with opening ceremonies and Parliament Hill, followed by a spirit walk to Confederation Park. There will be music, art, presentations and installations at the park. 
  • From sunrise to sunset the Beechwood Cemetery Foundation has partnered with the Project of Heart, the Assembly of 7 Generations and the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society to host a public day of reconciliation educational program. The event includes a 45-minute reconciling history tour, an outdoor screening of Spirit Bear and Children Make History, and a public display of tiles created by youth across Canada.
  • The Canadian Museum of History is offering free admission on Thursday, although timed tickets are still required for entry.
  • A walk-through exhibition at Hardy Park in Brockville, Ont. is open to the public to learn about the 94 calls to action.