Every year on September 30, we recognize National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, to honour the children who never returned home and survivors of residential schools, as well as their families and communities. The federal holiday was enacted by Parliament and first marked on September 30, 2021. However, for many years before September 30 was recognised by the federal government, it was known as Orange Shirt Day – which was created by Indigenous activists to promote awareness and education about the residential school system.
The system of residential schools in Canada was created to eradicate Indigenous cultures and was a genocide that stole the lives of so many children and devastated Indigenous families and communities. The last residential school was closed in 1996, and the legacy of residential schools lives on. In the past few years, the unmarked graves of hundreds of Indigenous children who were killed in the residential school system have been discovered, with many more still waiting to be found and returned to their families and communities.
On September 30, CEIU encourages its members to wear orange and to attend one of the many community events marking the day. We also encourage you to learn more by reading the report and recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Report, as well as the many other sources of information available, such as those from the Centre for Truth and Reconciliation.
Below is list of things we can do as union members to advance Indigenous rights. This document is also available as a PDF that you can print and share with other union members. As well, you can consult our Land Acknowledgement Guide to learn more about how to do a meaningful territorial acknowledgement.
Bring Reconciliation to the Bargaining Table
- Incorporate Indigenous rights as a core component of union campaigns and bargaining.
- Advocate for fair treatment, representation, and improve working conditions for Indigenous workers.
- Address issues of cultural sensitivity, inclusion, and access to meaningful employment.
Educate union members about Indigenous rights
- Organize workshops, seminars, or training sessions to educate union members about Indigenous rights.
- Read the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Report and its 94 Calls to Action.
- Read the Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) and its 231 Calls for Justice.
Acknowledge the Land
- Develop meaningful land acknowledgements that honor and reflect the importance of the land you are on.
- Visit https://native-land.ca/ to learn about the land you are currently occupying.
- Gain knowledge about the Indigenous territories, languages, and treaties associated with the land.
Understand the significance of September 30th as Orange Shirt Day
- Educate yourself about the history of residential schools in Canada and their impact on Indigenous communities.
- Show your support and solidarity by wearing an orange shirt on September 30th.
- Attend local events or activities organized to commemorate September 30th.
Join broader movements and campaigns for Indigenous rights.
- Collaborate with other social justice organizations. Participate in rallies, demonstrations, or public awareness campaigns.
- Amplify Indigenous voices and support land rights and self-determination.