The First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) will observe the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on Sept. 30. The day honours the lost children and survivors of residential schools, their families and communities.
Creating such a federal holiday was one of the 94 calls to action by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 2015. The reasoning behind the recommendation is that public commemoration of the tragic and painful history and ongoing impacts of residential schools is a vital component of the reconciliation process.
On June 3, 2021, Bill C-5 received Royal Assent and Sept. 30 was officially designated as National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
The day has been an Indigenous-led grassroots commemorative event since 2013. It became known as Orange Shirt Day because of the experience of Phyllis Webstad, a Northern Secwpemc (Shuswap) from the Stswecem'c Xgat'tem First Nation. On her first day of school, Phyllis arrived dressed in a new orange shirt, which was taken from her. It is now a symbol of the stripping away of culture, freedom and self-esteem experienced by Indigenous children over generations.
On Sept. 30, Canadians are encouraged to wear orange to raise awareness of this tragic legacy.
As a new public holiday under the Canada Labour Code, Sept. 30 is now a statutory holiday for postal workers, bank employees and federal government staff members. Provincial governments, private companies and organizations can decide if they want to honour optional or unofficial holidays. The Province of BC and the FNHA are among those that have chosen to do so.
As the health and wellness partner to Indigenous people and communities in BC, the FNHA considers that self-determination and reconciliation is a fundamental part of its purpose as an organization. The FNHA is deeply committed to cultural safety and humility and that commitment includes providing support for organizations looking to commemorate the history and legacy of residential schools.
Cultural Safety and Humility Resources
The FNHA is also providing cultural, emotional, and mental health counselling services. For more information please visit Mental Health and Wellness.
To learn more, visit Cultural Safety and Humility.