30 Days of Action: An internal communications campaign for the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

By: Jasmine Ahmed, Junior Communications Officer, Communications Community Office

Since 2013, Indigenous communities have commemorated Orange Shirt Day on September 30 to call attention to the devastating impact and legacy of the residential school system in Canada. In 2021, the Government of Canada created the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation to honour the lost children and Survivors of residential schools, their families and communities.

At the same time, internal communicators at the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) were working on initiatives to advance the Vision150 modernization plan. Ahead of its 150th anniversary in 2023, the RCMP had laid out five different areas in which they committed to changing RCMP culture and practice, including addressing systemic racism and building trust with Indigenous communities.

Quickly recognizing the opportunity, the RCMP’s National Communication Services’ Contract and Indigenous Policing team launched an internal campaign to amplify the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in 2021. The campaign featured a 30-day curriculum to immerse personnel in the mindset of reconciliation with Indigenous employees, communities, and peoples.

Headshot of Elizabeth Gilbert
Elizabeth Gilbert

“Reconciliation Begins with Me”

Elizabeth Gilbert is a Senior Communications Strategist on the Contract and Indigenous Policing team and the brainchild of the campaign. As the communications lead, she came up with the concept of the 30-day calendar and created the communications strategy. In addition, she maintained open communication and engagement with all stakeholders during the campaign development and rollout.

Elizabeth’s passion for the project derives from working with Indigenous communities for over 30 years in Yukon, the Northwest Territories, and across the country. She puts listening at the forefront of what we can do to advance us on the path of reconciliation.

“We’re in the habit of always wanting the ‘good news’ stories. The good news stories are all about us. Reconciliation isn’t about us. It isn’t about the Government of Canada. It’s about listening and learning.”

Elizabeth explained that they called the campaign “30 Days of Action: Reconciliation Begins with Me” as each item added to the calendar asked the question: What can I do as an individual to contribute to reconciliation?

“There was not one social media post that promoted ‘Hey! Look at how we are contributing to reconciliation.’ The focus was for employees to take action on how they could learn, listen, watch, and read about how they can contribute to reconciliation. We provided the tools and resources to help people figure out how they can contribute individually or as a team.”

The campaign consisted of daily activities, including videos, interactive training modules, selections from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action, and other resources.


All products were developed with the input of Indigenous RCMP employees, communications colleagues with other portfolios, the Chief Human Resources Officer, RCMP Indigenous Collaboration, Co‑development and Accountability (RICCA) office, and the RCMP Indigenous Policing Services unit to ensure integrity with the Indigenous worldview.

Campaign graphic
Campaign graphics were designed in-house and contained symbols from the First Nations, Métis and Inuit cultures (eagle feathers, Métis sash and canoeist in river).

Reflecting the alignment between other government departments (OGDs), resources included colleagues from the Canada School of Public Service, Crown‑Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada, and the Department of Canadian Heritage. At weekly working group calls with OGDs led by Canadian Heritage, the RCMP also updated colleagues on the initiative’s progress and raised considerations for an aligned OGD approach. This collaborative approach ensured that all partners saw themselves in the 30-day plan.

To promote awareness across the RCMP, the campaign rollout was supported by a Commissioner’s Broadcast issued by Commissioner Brenda Lucki to all levels of RCMP leadership and members. A Divisional Communications Memo was also distributed across all provinces and territories, including detachments serving Indigenous communities.

The focused planning, creativity, and collaboration with Indigenous partners and OGDs paid off. For September 2021, the 30 Days of Action was the most‑visited internal feature page on the RCMP’s intranet, totaling 8,000 hits for the month and in the top 40 overall according to RCMP web statistics.

A path forward

The initiative paved a path for internal communicators to implement similar campaigns within their own divisions. Elizabeth’s advice to communicators is to start small and promote products that already exist. She challenges internal communicators, to ask themselves how they would like to receive information and to reflect on their own personal learning journey.

“If you look at the Calls to Action, there are just so many things to start from. You can focus on one or two action items every day. It will be easy to populate a 30-day calendar, or even 7 days leading up to the day.”

Information overload can be a barrier to a successful campaign. We get many emails a day and are constantly processing information. Elizabeth used a “small bite-sized” approach using quick and attention-grabbing information that allow individuals or teams to take five minutes to learn something new every day. She also suggested using products that already exist and leveraging departments that have informative products as well.

“All year you invest time and energy into internal communication products—why not promote them?”

Learning and awareness are at the core of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. Building on the success of last year’s campaign, Elizabeth and her team have been busy collaborating on the campaign for 2022.

Are you interested in starting your own campaign to engage staff in reconciliation? These resources are a great place to start:

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