This Friday will mark the 2nd annual National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. CMHA Kelowna will be recognizing this as a statutory holiday.
First, I would like to acknowledge that for some this day may be a painful reminder of the tragic and unconscionable acts that took place within the Residential School system and their lasting impacts. Please be mindful of the people around you and how they may be feeling.
The systemic degradation of life of Indigenous Peoples through colonial practices has gone on for generations. It cannot be undone through one day a year. While September 30th is a day set aside for us to reflect, to learn, and to commit to doing better – this must be an ongoing commitment we all take together. But, today, we take time to stand in proud solidarity with Indigenous mental health care providers and champions inside CMHA and beyond, and across Turtle Island. We commit to creating communities and systems that recognize and value Indigenous voices and rights.
On September 30th, there are any number of ways to take part. They include reviewing resources along with your own research, wearing an orange shirt, and attending events in our community. There is no single right way to approach the day. The wrong thing would be to do nothing at all.
Below we have included a video by the Honourable Murray Sinclair, former head of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Here, Sinclair succinctly shares what our role is when it comes to reconciliation. This video is under 3 minutes long and as an organization we strongly encourage you to watch it.
“Education is the key to reconciliation. Education is what got us into this mess, and education will get us out.” – The Honourable Murray Sinclair
CMHA Kelowna is an employer partner with the Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion (CCDI) and we are pleased to share the information below, originally presented in the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation/Orange Shirt Day guide by the CCDI..
Colonization in Canada’s History
Colonization in Canada’s History Indigenous peoples throughout the area now known as Canada thrived on these lands for millennia before European contact was made. Due to the vast number of Indigenous nations, each with their own cultures, languages, and traditions, it is impossible to group together their history. However, one common thread existed amongst them – all physical and spiritual needs were met using the resources given to them by the land. This is why valuing land and nature is a central tenet of all Indigenous communities, and this sets the stage for why the post-colonial actions that separated Indigenous peoples from the land were intentional and deeply traumatizing. Listed below is an abbreviated timeline of key decrees, Acts, policies, reports, and events that contributed to the genocide of the Indigenous Peoples faced in Canada as background for moving forward. For more detailed information, please visit The Canadian Encyclopedia website.
1400s – Doctrine of Discovery
A means of legitimizing the colonization of lands outside of Europe. Christopher Columbus arrives in the Americas.
1763 – The Royal Proclamation
Signed by King George III giving limited recognition of title to Indigenous communities and providing guidelines for negotiating treaties on a nation-to-nation basis.
1880s – Beginning of federal residential school system
While the federal residential school system began around 1883, the origins of the residential school system can be traced to as early as the 1830s — long before Confederation in 1867 — when the Anglican Church established a residential school in Brantford, Ont. Prior to this point, churches had built schools specifically for Indigenous children since the mid-1600s. For more information, visit the Indigenous Peoples Atlas of Canada.
1982 – The Canadian Constitution Act, 1982
The Canadian Constitution is patriated, and thanks to the advocacy of Indigenous peoples, Section 35 recognizes and affirms Aboriginal title and treaty rights.
1997 – Last residential school closes
The last residential school to close was Kivalliq Hall in Rankin Inlet in the land that is now known as Nunavut. Kivalliq Hall was only recently recognized as a residential school, and until then Gordon Residential School in Punnichy, Saskatchewan, which closed in 1996, was known to be the last residential school.
2008 – Formal apology
Prime Minister Stephen Harper, on behalf of the Government of Canada, delivers a formal apology to residential school survivors and their families.
2015 – Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada
Report published with 94 calls to action.
2021 (May) – First public confirmation of residential school graves
215 unmarked graves were detected at Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia.
2021 (June) – Creation of federal statutory holiday
National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on September 30.
2022 (March) – Papal apology in Rome
Over 30 members of First Nation, Inuit and Métis delegations pleaded for and received a private apology from the Pope for the Roman Catholic church’s actions in the creation of the residential school system. The Pope promised to deliver this apology on Indigenous land.
2022 (July) – Papal visit to Indigenous lands
The Pope visited Indigenous lands in Alberta, Quebec and Nunavut and offered apologies for the church’s involvement in residential schools.