Three totems at the Gathering Place

Marking the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

September 20, 2021
Author: Office of Indigenous Education and Engagement

A resource list to build awareness, understanding and support

September 30 is an annual statutory holiday to commemorate the history and ongoing trauma caused by residential schools. On this day, we honour those who were lost and the survivors, families and communities who continue to grieve.

In recent years, September 30 has been known as Orange Shirt Day – a date chosen because it is the time of year in which children were taken from their homes to residential schools, and because it is an opportunity to set the stage for anti-racism and anti-bullying policies for the coming school year. The name comes from residential school survivor Phyllis Webstad’s story of her first day at residential school, when she had her new orange shirt, bought for her by her grandmother, taken away from her.

Whether you are having a day of quiet reflection or participating in a community event (or both), the Office of Indigenous Education and Engagement has collected some resources to help you mark this day.

Books & reports

Seven Fallen Feathers: Racism, Death, and Hard Truths in a Northern City by Tanya Talaga

Using a sweeping narrative focusing on the lives of seven Indigenous students who died in Thunder Bay, Ontario, this book delves into the history of a northern city that has come to manifest Canada’s long struggle with human rights violations against Indigenous communities. This is an award-winning book about systemic racism, education, the failure of the policing and justice systems, and Indigenous rights.

National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation – Reports

Learn more about the work of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, housed at the University of Manitoba, by reading these reports, which include annual or five-year reports on the centre’s activities and a report that collects Survivors’ perspectives.

In Plain Sight: Addressing Indigenous-specific racism and discrimination in BC health care – Report

After hearing reports of Indigenous-specific racism in emergency departments in BC, Health Minister Adrian Dix appointed independent investigator Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond to lead an investigation into these allegations, situated and examined within a broader context of Indigenous-specific racism in the provincial health care system. On November 30, 2020, the In Plain Sight report was released. The report found that Indigenous peoples in BC are exposed to widespread racism that often results in negative experiences at the point of care, inequitable medical treatment, physical harm and even death.

The Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls

Reclaiming Power and Place is the title of the final report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. The report reveals that persistent and deliberate human and Indigenous rights violations and abuses are the root cause behind Canada’s staggering rates of violence against Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA people. The two-volume report calls for transformative legal and social changes to resolve the crisis that has devastated Indigenous communities across the country.

BCcampus Indigenization Guides

A collaboration between BCcampus and the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training, these guides are authored by teams of Indigenous and ally writers from across BC.

Documentaries & series

Jordan River Anderson, The Messenger

This is the story of Jordan River Anderson and how his life initiated a battle for the right of Indigenous children to receive the same standard of social, health and educational services as the rest of the Canadian population. This is filmmaker Alanis Obomsawin’s 52nd film.

Nîpawistamâsowin: We Will Stand Up

This film follows the journey of Colten Boushie’s family as they search for justice, taking their fight to the highest echelons of power and, ultimately, to the United Nations. Filmmaker Tasha Hubbard deftly illustrates how the long history of violence against Indigenous people continues to define life in parts of Canada, and the impact of systems that have been the instruments of colonial domination for centuries.

Free courses & webinars

Na’tsa’maht Shqwaluwun, One Heart, One Mind professional development series

Hosted by VIU’s Office of Indigenous Education and Engagement, this Integrated Learning Series titled “All My Relations” is designed to share promising practices and teachings that are emerging from the programs and activities run by the office. The theme this year is “promising practices leading to student health, wellness and resilience.”

Indigenous Canada

This course, offered by the University of Alberta, explores key issues facing Indigenous peoples today from a historical and critical perspective highlighting national and local Indigenous-settler relations. Topics for the 12 lessons include the fur trade and other exchange relationships, land claims and environmental impacts, legal systems and rights, political conflicts and alliances, Indigenous political activism, and contemporary Indigenous life, art and its expressions.

Indigenous Cultural Safety Collaborative Learning Series

This series consists of 13 webinars that address anti-Indigenous racism and Indigenous cultural safety in health care, education and more generally. Hosted in partnership with the Provincial Health Services Authority and the Southwest Ontario Aboriginal Health Access Centre.

Reconciliation through Indigenous Education

Engage with Indigenous knowledge keepers, educational leaders and resources to enhance your understanding and knowledge of practices that advance reconciliation in the places where you live, learn and work. Offered by the University of British Columbia’s Faculty of Education, Professional Development & Community Engagement.

Village Workshop series

This series of experiential reconciliation workshops is offered by Kathi Camilleri, a cultural safety practitioner with 25 years’ experience in facilitating, counselling, developing, directing and coordinating Indigenous community-based programs. A four-module online training experience based on The Village is available by contacting Kathi.

Virtual tour of the Mohawk Institute Residential School

The next tours are on October 20 and October 27.

Societies & organizations

Indian Residential School Survivors Society

This is a provincial organization with a 20-year history of providing services to Indian Residential School Survivors. The society’s website includes a list of services, information about Orange Shirt Day and a calendar of events.

Orange Shirt Society

The Orange Shirt Society’s website includes a list of resources and ideas for how to plan your Orange Shirt Day event.


**This list was adapted from the Resilience BC Anti-Racism Network, Nanaimo/Ladysmith Spoke resource list, December 2020.**

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