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  • Kraig Brachman

How to Show Your Support on Truth and Reconciliation Day

September 30th, 2022 marks the second year in which National Truth and Reconciliation Day as an officially recognized Canadian Statuary Holiday. Since 2013, Orange Shirt Day has been a day creating awareness of the residential school system and its continued impact on Indigenous communities.

Many people do not know how to support indigenous people on National Truth and Reconciliation Day. The best place to start is from a position of respect and to simply engage with the community and events that are being held. Below, you will see some suggestions on ways you can start the conversation with your kids and join in on the upcoming events being held in Calgary for the National Truth and Reconciliation Day.

Wear orange

Show your support of the ongoing healing of the Indigenous community by wearing orange on September 30th, or even around the date when attending events. You can visit for the full story on Orange Shirt Day, what the symbolism of the shirt means, and hear Phyllis Webstad’s story in her own words.

Use a Land Acknowledgement for Treaty 7

The use of Land Acknowledgments came to prominence in Canada after the 2015 Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report on Residential Schools. We say land acknowledgements as an act of respect to the land, people, and history we currently occupy. Calgary exists on Treaty 7 territory, and we have a specific land acknowledgment we can use during events and gatherings. Below is the Land Acknowledgement we use at FESA: We acknowledge that the land upon which we work and call home is on the traditional territories of the Blackfoot Confederacy (Siksika, Kainai, Piikani), the Tsuut’ina, the Îyâxe Nakoda Nations, the Métis Nation of Alberta Region 3, and all people who make their homes in the Treaty 7 region of Southern Alberta. FESA is grateful to work on the territory that situates Calgary, which is known as Mohkinstsis by the Blackfoot, Guts’ists’i by Tsuut’ina, and Wîchîspa by the Îyâxe Nakoda, as we endeavor to build a more literate and learning society allowing all to reach their potential.

Attend Events

All throughout the week of September 30th, there are a variety of Indigenous events to further the mission of National Truth and Reconciliation Day. We can’t list them all, be we wanted to provide a few that are easily accessible:

Truth and Reconciliation Event at the Military Museum:

"Join [The Military Museums Foundation] at the Military Museums on the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation [to] speak to the history and legacy of residential schools. Our educational interpreters will give tours around the museum as we contribute with this call to action."

Pokaiks Commemorative Walk & IndigiTRAILS - Remembering Our Children:

" CIFRS received the name Pokaiks in ceremony from elder Clarence Wolfleg for our Orange Shirt Walk which we are honoured for this gift.

Our 2021 event was very special last year. As the world learned of the unearthing of children in mass graves at different Residential Schools in what we call Canada.

This year Our theme is Take reconciliACTION.

We hope you will come join us this year to learn, grow, heal and take action as we commemorate, honour, reflect and move into a future where every child matters from the generations before to the ones to come.

Wear your orange shirt and be part of the ACTION exploring all the interesting community groups that are part of this years event.

For a quick glimpse of last years event, click play and hear from Dr. Clarence Wolfleg.

His words reflect the reason why CIF Reconciliation Society continues to honour Orange Shirt Day. (The National Day of Truth & Reconciliation)"

CIF Reconciliation Society presents New Blood - A Story of Reconciliation:

"Featuring poetry, music, contemporary and traditional dance, the show is inspired by the life of Chief Vincent Yellow Old Woman and his experience as a child in residential school, how he reclaimed his way of life and became chief of his people.

Artists include painters George Littlechild and Doug Levitt, drummers Skip WolfLeg and Chris Eagle Rib, vocalist Sho Blunderfield, and numerous actors and dancers including Nikko Hunt playing the role of his grandfather, the Chief.

Indigenous Awareness: The Blanket Exercise:

"The Blanket Exercise is an experiential exercise that looks at the lived experience of Indigenous people within Canadian history. Created in response to the 1996 Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples. The Blanket Exercise is a fully immersive experience. For more information about the blanket exercise please visit KAIROS Canada."

Read about Indigenous Culture

Here are four books we’ve highlighted before that you can use to broach the complicated history of the Residential School System and its impact on Indigenous people in Canada:

Stolen Words

Written by Melanie Florence & Illustrated by Barielle Grimard

"The story of the beautiful relationship between a little girl and her grandfather. When she asks her grandfather how to say something in his language – Cree – he admits that his language was stolen from him when he was a boy. The little girl then sets out to help her grandfather find his language again. This sensitive and warmly illustrated picture book explores the intergenerational impact of the residential school system that separated young Indigenous children from their families. The story recognizes the pain of those whose culture and language were taken from them, how that pain is passed down, and how healing can also be shared." -- Second Story Press

Borrow it from the Calgary Public Library:

Fatty Legs

Written by Christy Jordan-Fenton

"Eight-year-old Margaret Pokiak has set her sights on learning to read, even though it means leaving her village in the high Arctic. Faced with unceasing pressure, her father finally agrees to let her make the five-day journey to attend school, but he warns Margaret of the terrors of residential schools. At school Margaret soon encounters the Raven, a black-cloaked nun with a hooked nose and bony fingers that resemble claws. She immediately dislikes the strong-willed young Margaret. Intending to humiliate her, the heartless Raven gives gray stockings to all the girls — all except Margaret, who gets red ones. In an instant Margaret is the laughingstock of the entire school. In the face of such cruelty, Margaret refuses to be intimidated and bravely gets rid of the stockings. Although a sympathetic nun stands up for Margaret, in the end it is this brave young girl who gives the Raven a lesson in the power of human dignity. Complemented by archival photos from Margaret Pokiak-Fenton’s collection and striking artworks from Liz Amini-Holmes, this inspiring first-person account of a plucky girl’s determination to confront her tormentor will linger with young readers." -- Annick Press

Borrow it from the Calgary Public Library:

Residential Schools: With the word and images of Survivors

Written by Larry Loyie

"Residential Schools, With the Words and Images of Survivors, A National History (2018) honours the survivors, the former students, who attended residential schools. Designed for the general reader this accessible, 112-page history offers a first-person perspective of the residential school system in Canada, as it shares the memories of more than 70 survivors from across Canada as well as 125 archival and contemporary images (65 black & white photographs, 51 colour, some never before published). This essential volume written by award-winning author Larry Loyie, 1933-2016 (Cree), a survivor of St. Bernard Mission residential school in Grouard, AB, and co-authored by Constance Brissenden and Wayne K. Spear (Mohawk), reflects the ongoing commitment of this team to express the truths about residential school experiences and to honour the survivors whose voices are shared in this book. Along with the voices, readers will be engaged by the evocative, archival photographs provided by the Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre with the assistance of curator Krista McCracken. The book begins with the moving introduction by Larry Loyie, and moves to seven chapters that explore the purpose of this school system; cultures and traditions; leaving home; life at school the half-day system; the dark side of the schools; friendship and laughter coping with a new life; changing world--the healing begins; and an afterword. A detailed, full colour map showing residential schools, timeline with key dates, glossary, and a helpful index (including names of survivors and schools) make this vital resource a must-have for secondary, college, and universities, libraries, and the general reader." -- Indigenous Education Press

Borrow it from the Calgary Public Library:

Residential Schools and Reconciliation

Written by J.R. Miller

"Since the 1980s, successive Canadian institutions and federal governments as well as Christian churches have attempted to grapple with the malignant legacy of residential schooling through official apologies, the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement, and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).

In Residential Schools and Reconciliation, award-winning author J.R. Miller tackles and explains these institutional responses to Canada’s residential school legacy. Analysing archival material and interviews with former students, politicians, bureaucrats, church officials, and the Chief Commissioner of the TRC, Miller reveals a major obstacle to achieving reconciliation – the inability of Canadians at large to overcome their flawed, overly positive understanding of their country’s history. This unique, timely, and provocative work asks Canadians to accept that the root of the problem was Canadians like them in the past who acquiesced to aggressively assimilative policies." -- University of Toronto Press

Borrow it from the Calgary Public Library:

Attend an Indigenous Event not only around Truth and Rec Day

While it’s important to participate in the Truth and Reconciliation Day and showing your support on September 30th, the spirit of Truth and Reconciliation is not limited to one day. It's important to support Indigenous every day and in the ways the community wishes to be supported, and make it a regular occurrence throughout the community.

There are organizations in Calgary, like the Calgary Public Library, Aboriginal Friendship Centre of Calgary, the Urban Society of Aboriginal Youth, as well as the Tsuut'ina Nation that all work for more Indigenous inclusivity and hold events throughout the year.

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