Today marks the inaugural National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, a day we have traditionally observed as Orange Shirt Day — a grass-roots initiative begun by residential school survivor Phyllis Webstad.
As a nation, we are grappling with a collective reckoning. The uncovering of unmarked graves at former residential schools is a tragic reminder of the deliberate, assimilationist policies that removed Indigenous children from their families.
While honoring the survivors of residential schools was among the 94 Calls to Action put forward by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, remembrance without action rings hollow. Today, there are many opportunities, both virtual and in-person with distancing measures, to become more involved. Our offices at the Mental Health Commission of Canada will be closed as we desire and expect participation from our staff.
To acknowledge the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, consider researching the Indigenous history of your region, listening to music by Indigenous artists, or wearing an orange shirt to honour survivors of residential schools and those who never made it home.
If this day is difficult for you, a 24-hour National Indian Residential School Crisis Line offering support services and crisis referrals is available at 1-866-925-4419 for former residential school students and their families. Those affected can also call the Hope for Wellness line at 1-855-242-3310, the Talk 4 Healing line at 1-855-554-HEAL, or text WELLNESS to 741741 at any time.
Reconciliation, by its very nature, requires us to walk an uncomfortable path as we become more educated and empathetic — and thus, better partners to Indigenous communities as they lead us on a new way forward, and toward a place of healing.
President and CEO, Mental Health Commission of Canada
Mental Health Commission of Canada613-683-3748
613-683-3748 / firstname.lastname@example.org