National Truth and Reconciliation Day on Sept. 30 honours the survivors and lost children of residential schools, including their families and communities impacted by the horrific happenings of the school system.
In June 2021, the day was approved by legislation, as Bill C-5, to be one of Canada's newest federal statutory holidays. This happened following a tragic discovery at a former residental school in Kamloops, B.C., where the remains from 215 Indigenous children were found in May.
This day is meant for Canadians to take the time to pause and reflect on the ongoing impacts of residential schools, but also to educate themselves on how to take action toward reconciliation with Indigenous communities.
Sept. 30 is also known as Orange Shirt Day, another day of national commemoration to residential school survivors, the date was chosen as it was the time when children were taken from their homes to attend the schools.
Since 2013, wearing an Orange shirt on Sept. 30 recognizes how the residential school system set out to destroy and take away many aspects of Indigenous culture to force children into a Euro-centric way of life.
On this year's Sept. 30, many organizations, institutions, cities and workplaces around Ontario are participating in acts of public commemoration to honour lives impacted by the residential school system.
Here's a breakdown of how major cities in Ontario are marking Truth and Reconciliation Day:
- All flags at City Hall and civic centres will be lowered to half-mast and the Toronto sign will be lit orange.
- Land Back Unity Concerts will host outdoor performances by Juno award-winning Indigenous musicians at Dufferin Grove Park, starting at 3pm.
- Toronto Urban Native Ministry (TUNM) is hosting an online teaching session called "Shining Light on the Indian Residential School Legacy". Tickets are $10 each and all proceeds are going to Save the Evidence campaign and TUNM's residential school survivor's programming.
- The Toronto Zoo is offering complimentary admission to Indigenous peoples and will be hosting programming related to Truth and Reconciliation throughout the day.
- Through the month of September, the "Every Child Matters" orange flag will be flown half-mast at Town Hall. During the week of Sept. 27, Town Hall and the Oakville Centre for Performing Arts will be lit orange.
- From Sept. 23-Oct. 3, Oakville will be hosting an outdoor film series across the town, all movies focus on learning about Indigenous culture and the contributions they've made to the land we all live on today.
- Free tickets are available to watch Indigenous musician Shawnee Kish perform at the Oakville Centre for the Performing Arts at 8 p.m. on Sept. 30.
- You can take a walk along Moccasin Trails, where information stations are set up to learn about the history of the land in the area from an Indigenous perspective.
- On Sept. 30, the Civic Centre clock tower will be lit orange
- Screens at Celebration Square will be on throughout the day showing the 94 calls to action by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and the steps the city has taken to complete these actions.
- You can watch a series of Indigenous films playing on screens at Celebration Square, at noon, 2 p.m., 6 p.m. and 8 p.m.
- Free tickets are available at the Bradley museum where you can take tours to learn more about the 94 calls to action, Truth and Reconciliation and the history of Indigenous people in Mississauga.
- Flags at City Hall will be lowered to half-mast and the Brampton City Hall Clock Tower will be lit orange.
- The "Every Child Matters" flag will also be raised at City Hall, starting Sept. 27 till Oct. 1 for Truth and Reconciliation Week
- Indigenous programming will be running on the Garden Square screen all day on Sept. 30, the programs are meant to teach build cultural understanding behind Indigenous people.
- Kendel Netmaker, an award-winning Indigenous keynote speaker, will be speaking at 10 a.m. in Garden Square.
- An "Every Child Matters" flag will be raised at City Hall
- Both City Hall and the J. Allyn Taylor building will be lit orange
- The Museum of Ontario Archeology is offering free, capacity-limited tours
- Western University is hosting a number of events, including a Sacred Fire from 12 to 4 p.m. near the Music Building on Sept. 30. The Chief Fire Keeper of the Eastern Doorway Midewiwin Lodge will be hosting the event.
- The Hamilton sign will be lit orange on Sept. 30
- The Art Gallery of Hamilton is offering free admission for its Learning and Action workshop led by Indigenous community members.
- Flags across campus at McMaster University will be lowered to half-mast, the exterior of Hamilton Hall, Gilmour Hall and several other buildings on campus will be lit orange to honour the children who never came home from residential schools.
- Cayuga artist Kyle Joedicke will be hosting a DJ fundraising event, starting at 9:30 p.m. at The Casbah. All of the proceeds from the event will go towards the Woodland Cultural Centre's Save the Evidence campaign.
- The Heritage Building, the Marion Dewar Plaza at City Hall and the Ottawa sign in ByWard Market will be lit orange at sunset on Sept. 30.
- Remember Me: A National Day of Rememberance will be held on Sept. 30, as presented by the Indigenous Arts Collective of Canada. The day will start at 10am with an opening ceremony at Parliament Hill, followed by a Spirit Walk to Confederation Park, where food and performances will be held until 5pm.
- Starting at 8 a.m. on Sept. 30, Beechwood Cemetery is hosting the first ever full public display of 57,000 tiles made by children and youth across Canada to honour the children who attended residential schools as part of the Project of Heart education program.
- The Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau is offering free admission to all exhibits on Sept. 30, right now the museum is displaying an exhibit called “Rekindled — tradition, modernity and transformation in Indigenous cultures.”
- An "Every Child Matters Flag will be raised and lowered to half-staff during a ceremony at 9 a.m. on Sept. 30 in Roseberg Park. The ceremony will begin with a Land Acknowledgment and will include a moment of silence.
- The falls will be lit orange, starting at 6:30 p.m. and repeating each half hour for 15 minutes up until 11:30 p.m.
- The Niagara Falls History Museum is hosting a virtual event with Richard Hill, an Indigenous Specialist at Mohawk College, he'll be teaching about "a Lesson from Wampum Diplomacy: From the Two Row Wampum until Today" from 3 to 4 p.m.
- Brian Kon, Senator for the Niagara Regional Metis Council will be training and educating all city staff about Truth and Reconciliation leading up to Sept. 30.
No matter where you live in Ontario, you can still take a moment to honour Indigenous lives impacted by residential schools. A live broadcast special of National Truth and Reconciliation Day will air on APTN, starting at 8 p.m.
The Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line (1-866-925-4419) is available 24-hours a day for anyone experiencing pain or distress as a result of his or her Residential school experience.