Thursday, September 30, marks Canada’s first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. The day provides an opportunity to recognize and reflect upon the tragic history and legacy of residential schools, where at least 6,000 children died, and to honour those who survived the residential school system. The day responds to Call to Action 80 in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to Action, which states, “We call upon the federal government, in collaboration with Aboriginal peoples, to establish, as a statutory holiday, a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation to honour Survivors, their families, and communities, and ensure that public commemoration of the history and legacy of residential schools remains a vital component of the reconciliation process.”
Truth and reconciliation requires self-education, transformative action, and continued maintenance. It requires each of us to call ourselves and our partners in, to have difficult moments of introspection, and to be accountable for our words and actions.Dr. Ray Markham
The Rural Coordination Centre of BC (RCCbc) strives to actively participate in truth and reconciliation with Indigenous people, on whose lands we live, work, and play. We are particularly committed to unravelling systemic racism in British Columbia, including the racism that continues to occur within our healthcare system. Our network and projects work in collaboration with a remarkable array of resilient First Nations, Métis, and Inuit communities spread across the province, each with their own specific contexts and strengths.
“We recognize that truth and reconciliation go hand in hand—that, in order to achieve reconciliation, we must first uncover and understand the devastating impact of colonialism on Indigenous peoples,” says Dr. Ray Markham, RCCbc Executive Director. “Truth and reconciliation requires self-education, transformative action, and continued maintenance. It requires each of us to call ourselves and our partners in, to have difficult moments of introspection, and to be accountable for our words and actions.”
To mark this important day, RCCbc is launching a new progress report to keep RCCbc, and our partners, accountable to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action to advance reconciliation. The progress report was developed by RCCbc’s RISE (RCCbc for Inclusion, Social Justice and Equity) Reference Group. The Group identified the Calls to Action that align with RCCbc’s mandate, then asked RCCbc’s healthcare leaders and staff to reflect on, and assess, how their current work considers and contributes to these Calls to Action—and where improvements could be made. The work outlined in the progress report is ongoing and will be evaluated every quarter.
“At RCCbc, we’re continuously learning on our journey towards truth and reconciliation—and we might not always get it right,” said Dr. Markham. “But we’re committed to embedding truth and reconciliation into our work, values, and culture. And we’ll continue to advocate for truth and reconciliation and to support others, including our staff and healthcare leaders, who are seeking further education and guidance.”
For more information about Indigenous communities and the journey towards truth and reconciliation, we invite you to explore these resources:
- Watch this video: Reconciliation: What does it mean?
- Visit the website of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, a place for learning and dialogue
- Discover Indigenous territories, treaties, and languages on this interactive map
- Visit these websites:
Wear orange to raise awareness and support!
National Day for Truth and Reconciliation coincides with Orange Shirt Day, which was launched in 2013 by Phyllis Webstad, who, in the 1970s, attended a residential school in British Columbia. To prepare for her first day of school, Phyllis went shopping with her grandmother and chose a new orange shirt to wear. When she arrived at the school, her shirt was taken away, and never seen again. On September 30, RCCbc encourages you to wear an orange shirt to show your commitment to learning about the impact of residential schools on Indigenous communities, to witness and honour the healing journey of the survivors and their families, and to support the ongoing process of reconciliation. It might seem small, but little things, like this, can make a big difference in raising awareness and support. Here are some other ways you can show your support for Orange Shirt Day (and everyday)…