Message from the Interim Clerk and Deputy Clerk for the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

September 28, 2021 - Defence Stories


We recognize that this message may come at a time that is difficult for many and that our efforts to honour residential school Survivors, their families, and Indigenous communities may cause trauma to those who have suffered through generations of government policies that were harmful to Indigenous peoples. We recognize that some employees may not want to read on to minimize the risk associated with triggering.

A support line is available to residential school Survivors, their families, and Indigenous communities for support, emotional and crisis referral services. It also provides information on how to obtain other health supports from the Government of Canada. Please call 1-866-925-4419 if you or someone you know is triggered while reading this.

On September 30, we will come together, as public servants and as Canadians, to honour residential school Survivors, their families, and Indigenous communities. This day marks the inaugural National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, which was established as a federal statutory holiday to allow us all to take the necessary time to learn about and commemorate the tragic, painful and ongoing impacts of residential schools on First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples.

The designation of a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation directly responds to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) Call to Action 80 to establish a day to honour the Survivors of residential schools. The date, September 30, reflects the time of year when children were taken from their homes and builds on the grassroots momentum of the Indigenous-led Orange Shirt Day, known as a day to remember residential school Survivors and to advance reconciliation.

There were over 140 schools in Canada’s residential school system. The first residential school opened in 1831, and the last one closed only 23 years ago, in 1998. The mistreatment of Indigenous children at these institutions is a national tragedy and shame. While some Canadians have only recently become aware of the horrors of residential schools, and of the thousands of children who never returned home, these are truths that First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples have had to live with for generations.

We can never forget the thousands of children who were victims of Canada’s colonial policies—and those who continue to live with their tragic consequences.

The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is meant to give you, and all Canadians, an opportunity to reflect on, and participate in, Indigenous-led educational and commemorative activities on the legacy of residential schools and the impacts on Indigenous peoples that are being planned across Canada.

The path toward reconciliation with Indigenous peoples is built on better understanding and repairing relationships. It requires that we learn about the past and how we got here, share this knowledge with others, and amplify and support Indigenous voices and perspectives. This significant day will help ensure that the tragic history and legacy of residential schools are not forgotten and remain vital components of the reconciliation process.

We encourage all of you to take some time before September 30 to plan what you will do that day to continue to learn about the residential school system and its lasting negative impacts on generations of First Nations, Inuit and Métis people. This can be done by attending a virtual or local commemorative event, listening to Survivors’ stories, and sharing this knowledge with others. Employees attending in-person events should keep COVID-19 precautions in mind.

Healing is a long process, which must include the education of each and every one of us. We encourage you to continue to push your personal boundaries as you access learning resources and listen to the stories, experiences and perspectives of Survivors and Indigenous peoples—something that we, ourselves, commit to doing more of. A good starting point is the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (you are now leaving the Government of Canada website), which was created as part of the TRC for ongoing learning and research on residential schools. They are leading on several activities around September 30. Also, Canadian Heritage has developed a special page that includes educational tools and resources, as well as a list of activities taking place from September 27 to October 1, 2021.

Thank you,

Janice Charette
Interim Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet

Nathalie G. Drouin
Deputy Clerk of the Privy Council and Associate Secretary to the Cabinet

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