September 30, 2021, marked the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. But the day held significance for the Indigenous community and their allies long before this.
Orange Shirt Day was born from the St. Joseph’s Mission Residential School (1891-1981) Commemoration Project and Reunion events that took place in Williams Lake, BC in May 2013. The date was chosen because it is the time of year when children were taken from their homes to residential schools. It is an opportunity for Indigenous Peoples, local governments, schools, and communities to come together in the spirit of reconciliation and hope for generations of children to come.
Public reflection on the tragic and painful history and ongoing impacts of residential schools is a vital component of the truth and reconciliation process.
United Way Centraide Canada began its Truth & Reconciliation journey in 2019 with the formation of our Indigenous Relationship and Reconciliation Committee of the Board mandated to help guide our learning and awareness for staff and volunteers. In 2021, the United Way Centraide Canada Board of Directors adopted our Commitment to Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples, and we recognize that we’re at the beginning of our journey in this space, the “Truth” stage, as represented by our commitments below.
We are committed to:
- Listening to and learning from Indigenous members of our communities about Indigenous strengths and ways of knowing and being;
- Reflecting on the relationship that we have had with Indigenous Peoples;
- Collaborating with Indigenous communities and organizations whose objectives or work intersect with ours; and
- Embracing Indigenous voices, leadership, and participation in all aspects of our organization and the United Way Centraide Movement.
Since making the commitment, we have worked to build a strategy that encompasses Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion & Indigenous Collaboration (DEI & IC), and hired a National Director of DEI & IC, who will help guide the organization on our Truth & Reconciliation path. This year we are holding space for Indigenous Peoples and will be hosting Sacred Teachings for the United Way Centraide network and our national office staff on September 29 and 30, 2022.
As a national charity with deep local impact, we view Truth and Reconciliation as an opportunity to honour Indigenous Peoples across this land and elevate our commitment to them. This National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, we will be listening and reflecting on the stories and teachings of Indigenous communities. We believe reconciliation can only happen after we understand the truth of these teachings and the history of Indigenous Peoples in Canada.