Canada marks the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

Canadians today are marking the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. Created in June 2021, the day raises awareness of the […]
Close up of memorial on Parliament Hill. Credit: MichelGuenette/istockphoto

Canadians today are marking the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. Created in June 2021, the day raises awareness of the horrors of the residential school system in Canada and its impact on Indigenous communities. More than 150,000 First Nations, Inuit and Métis children attended residential schools, which were used as a means of forced assimilation and according to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's 2015 report, cultural genocide. Starting in 1920, these schools were mandatory for treaty-status children aged 7 to 15. Many of those children never returned home.

The discovery of more than 1,000 unmarked grave sites at two former residential schools earlier this year horrified the nation and rose general awareness of the destructive legacy of the residential school system.

Children's shoes on Parliament Hill in July 2021 form a memorial to Indigenous children who died at residential schools. Credit: MichelGuenette/istockphoto

A national day of commemoration to honour survivors, their families and communities, was one of the 94 recommendations made by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). The federal government chose Sept. 30, which is also “Orange Shirt Day,” as the new federal holiday.

Miners across the nation acknowledged the day on social media channels.

The mining sector has an opportunity – and many would argue an obligation – to engage meaningfully on reconciliation. The industry is the largest private sector employer of Indigenous people in Canada, and mining companies often explore, develop and mine on the traditional lands of Indigenous communities.

The TRC report included 94 recommendations around the themes of child welfare, education, health, language and culture, the justice system, and other areas.

One of the recommendations (No. 92), was specifically aimed at the corporate sector, calling for it to adopt the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as a reconciliation framework and to apply its principles, norms, and standards to corporate policy and core operational activities involving Indigenous peoples and their lands and resources.

This recommendation includes:

  • Committing to meaningful consultation, building respectful relationships, and obtaining the free, prior, and informed consent of Indigenous peoples before proceeding with economic development projects.
  • Ensuring that Aboriginal peoples have equitable access to jobs, training, and education opportunities in the corporate sector, and that Aboriginal communities gain long-term sustainable benefits from economic development projects.
  • Providing education for management and staff on the history of Aboriginal peoples, including the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Treaties and Aboriginal rights, Indigenous law, and Aboriginal–Crown relations.

Read all 94 calls to action.

According to the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, based at the University of Manitoba, only 14 of the calls to action have so far been implemented.

Find out more from the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation..

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