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The Truth and Reconciliation Call to Action 80: 

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.

September 30th 2023 is the third time Canada will mark a National Day of Truth and Reconciliation.  It was chosen to fall on Orange Shirt Day, a grassroots commemoration marked by the wearing of Orange Shirts remembering the children forced to leave their families and attend residential schools. 

The residential school system was based on an assumption that European civilization and Christian religions were superior to Aboriginal culture, which was seen as being savage and brutal. 

~ the Truth and Reconciliation Commission

The ELCIC and its predecessor bodies did not administer any Residential Schools.  This perhaps justifies our desire to distance ourselves from this colonial legacy. But as Steve Heinrichs, director for Indigenous-Settler Relations for Mennonite Church Canada states,

All Christians are connected to this profound legacy of harm. The Indian school system was wrought in the name of Jesus and, as other have stated, 'What was done in the name of Jesus, needs to be undone in that same name.'

As part of that undoing we need to take time to listen, to reflect and pray and then take concrete actions. 

I encourage you to listen to a group of Elders representing Indigenous and other ancient histories speak to the language of reconciliation in this video from Reconciliation Canada  

After hearing their thoughts on reconciliation, take some time to reflect on the following questions: 

  • What does reconciliation mean to me?

  • Why is reconciliation meaningful to me?

Ideas for Action: 

Is there one person that you can talk to about what you’ve reflected on today?  

Do you know where the nearest Indian Residential School is?  What do you know about it?  When did it close?  

And here is a resource for the youth or older children in your life - "This Place" podcast adapted from the bestselling graphic novel anthology of the same name, tells 150 years of Canadian history through Indigenous stories, music and more.

For younger children, here is a video from CBC Kids about Orange Shirt Day. 

Vibrant God
Your creation explodes with the colours of the rainbow
Your peoples reveal the beauty of diversity
We remember today when the joy and dignity of a precious child was destroyed.
We lament today for the childhoods lost through the residential school system.
We mourn for the spirits crushed and the futures compromised.
Teach us to celebrate the hope and joy of every child,
Tell the stories of resistance that make us stronger,
Build the bonds of solidarity to ensure “never again”
In the name of the one who was child among us