September 30 – Truth and Reconciliation Day
September 30, 2021 was recently recognized as the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. The day honours the lost children and survivors of residential schools, their families, and communities. Public commemoration of this tragic and painful history and the ongoing impacts is viewed as a vital component of the reconciliation process. On June 3, 2021, the day was recognized by the Government of Canada as a federal statutory holiday. Pursuant to this, the Chiefs Executive Council recently approved for Tłı̨chǫ Government offices to be closed on September 30th in recognition of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
September 30 is also recognized as Orange Shirt Day. Orange Shirt Day is an Indigenous-led grassroots commemorative day that honours the children who survived Indian Residential Schools and remembers those who did not. An orange shirt was chosen as it relates to the experiences of Phyllis Webstad, a Northern Shuswap who, on her first day of residential school, had her new orange shirt taken from her. The orange shirt is now a symbol of the stripping away of culture, freedom and self-esteem experienced by Indigenous children over generations. The National Center for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR) is encouraging everyone across the country to mark September 30 by wearing orange shirts and ‘lighting up’ the country orange.
The NCTR, in partnership with APTN, CBC/Radio Canada, Insight Productions and Canadian Heritage is producing a new broadcast special, Nation Day for Truth and Reconciliation. The production will broadcast and stream live on September 30 on APTN, CBC and CBC Gem.
Given the solemn nature of this holiday, some may experience sadness, anxiety, anger or other distressful emotions. Please remember there are mental health supports available to you.
- Former Residential School students can call 1-866-925-4419 for emotional crisis referral services and information on other health supports from the Government of Canada.
- Indigenous peoples across Canada can also go to The Hope for Wellness Help Line 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for counselling and crisis intervention. Call the toll-free Help Line at 1-855-242-3310 or connect to the online chat.
- The Tłı̨chǫ Community Services Agency (TCSA) offers mental health services open to anyone in the region. There are 3-4 counsellors on staff in Behchokǫ̀ for adults and 2 child and youth counsellors. One of these staff is from the local community, two are not. They offer drop-in as well as scheduled appointments, phone or Zoom is also available now. Counsellors will even go for a walk with their client and normally do home visits (cannot now due to COVID-19). There is no waitlist and no cost for this service. The TCSA also has mental health services available in Whatì including an adult counsellor. Child and Youth Care counselling is available virtually. Wekweètì and Gamètì are serviced by Behchokǫ̀ counsellors, where the counsellor provides virtual services as well as a trip to the community once per month.