For almost a decade, Indigenous people in Canada have marked Orange Shirt Day to commemorate the victims and survivors of the residential school system that was designed to separate them from their families and their cultures.
Now in its second year, Sept. 30 is the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. It means schools will be closed and most government and federally regulated industries will be shut down for the day. In time, it may become a statutory holiday for all.
But those of settler descent shouldn’t treat the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation as an opportunity to sleep in or boot out of town for a long weekend getaway. The day calls for, at the very least, solemn reflection on the legacy of colonialism and residential schools that continues to impact Indigenous people here today.
Even better would be taking some time to learn. Reading the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action, the 11-page document that lays out tangible steps the country and its citizens must take to help restore what was taken away, would be a positive start. Canada is making good progress on some of the steps. On others, we are woefully short.
In the Lower Mainland, including Delta there are several Truth and Reconciliation events the wider public are invited to.
The beauty of a national holiday also means there are opportunities to be forward looking. In many ways, we now see the upward trajectory of Indigenous people in Canada. Indigenous cultures should be a source of pride and not something to hide.
This Sept. 30, along with our time of reflection, that is something we can all celebrate.
Editor's note: Brent Richter is a reporter with the North Shore News, a sister publication of the Delta Optimist