Meaningful Recognition of National Day for Truth & Reconciliation at Work

Aug 17

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September 30th marks Canada’s National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. We set aside this day to recognize the suffering of Indigenous children through the residential school system.

The federal government and federally-regulated workplaces are required to recognize the holiday, and many other companies are trying to consider meaningful and genuine ways to honor the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation through activities and other means of acknowledgment. 2022 marks the first year of this national holiday, and we want to honor it properly.

Here are some ideas to consider for your company to observe this important day in a respectful and meaningful way:

Wear orange 🧡

For many years, Indigenous peoples and allies have been celebrating Orange Shirt Day on September 30. They have put aside this day as an unofficial holiday to honor the survivors and remember those lost through the resident school system by wearing orange. 

Wearing an orange shirt represents the systematic stripping of Indigenous culture through the story of Phyllis Webstad of the Stswecem’c Xgat’tem First Nation. When she arrived at school on her first day wearing an orange shirt, the school officials took it from her and forced her to wear school-approved attire.

Wearing orange on September 30 is a way to show solidarity and allyship for Indigenous peoples as they reclaim and hold onto their culture and heritage.

Provide time to reflect 💭

The federal government and federally regulated organizations will be providing September 30 as a holiday from work to recognize National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. We suggest your company also give the day off to your staff, as a way to show genuine respect for the occasion. Providing your employees with a non-working holiday indicates to your team and the community that your company is committed to working toward an inclusive company culture.

Precede the day off by sharing resources and providing training to appropriately educate your staff about the meaning behind National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. 

Invite a guest speaker 😌

Bring in an Indigenous guest speaker, storyteller, or instructor and host a discussion on the significance of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. Indigenous storytellers tell stories incorporating Indigenous peoples’ rich history and heritage to help your team learn about local Indigenous cultures. Alternatively, choose a guest speaker or instructor of Indigenous heritage and background to ensure your staff receives information from those who best understand the history and meaning behind this day. 

You can book live seminars and webinars to learn (and unlearn) as a team on Thriver.

Host a Potlatch 🥘

A potlatch is a ceremonial feast put on to honor an important event. Often a family or group will put on the meal and pass out gifts to those who attend. This tradition is prevalent among Indigenous nations across Canada and the United States. 

Consult an expert on Indigenous culture for recommendations on traditional foods and offerings to include in your event. Some gifts could consist of literature about Indigenous cultures and small, handmade art produced by Indigenous crafters

Learn together as a team 👥

Consider the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation Webinar. This 60-minute virtual seminar takes a holistic approach to uncovering the legacy of the residential school system. The workshop confronts the injustices incurred on the Indigenous peoples of Canada and explores avenues for healing and reconciliation.

Promote a diversity podcast 🎧

The internet is packed with meaningful media that promotes diversity and encourages coming together. Many podcasts specifically focus on Indigenous cultures and history. You can ask internally for employees to share their favorite ones or check out this list as suggestions to guide your team into a better understanding of Indigenous peoples and diverse groups as a whole:

  • MEDIA INDIGENA: Indigenous current affairs – hosted by Rick Harp
  • The Red Nation Podcast – hosted by Nick Estes and Jen Marley
  • Kiwew – hosted by David A. Robertson

Attend a ceremonial gathering ✨

On September 30, there’ll be a great many get-togethers across the country to recognize the day. Encourage your team to attend a public ceremonial gathering. It’s an excellent opportunity to truly experience Indigenous cultures through dance, food, music, and storytelling.

Explore resources 🔎

Consider educational material to further inform yourself and your employees on Indigenous peoples’ cultures, the impact these have had on the history of Canada and throughout North America, and the effect colonization has had on Indigenous cultures throughout history.

The informative resources below will help to understand Indigenous peoples and their heritage better.

Learn about Indigenous cultures

Explore the practices, languages, and spiritual beliefs of Canada’s three unique groups of Indigenous peoples. Learn how Canada seeks to work toward renewing our relationship with Indigenous peoples through respect for rights and partnership.

Explore Indigenous languages

Learn about Indigenous languages, as well as history and cultural expression.

Visit the Student Memorial Register

Canada created the Student Memorial Register to commemorate the children lost to the residential school system and honor the parents who were left to mourn. We ask that you interact with the page with respect and reverence.

Let’s take September 30th to reflect on the importance of creating connections between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. Only through sincere actions can we move forward into a bright future for everybody and remediation of the rifts that divide us. Canada’s National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is just one step toward a more significant national healing.

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