National Day for Truth and Reconciliation
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National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

Written by Library in Library Blog on September 23, 2021


Land Acknowledgement

Alexander College acknowledges that the land on which we usually gather is the traditional, ancestral and unceded territory of the Coast Salish peoples, including the territories of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations. We are grateful to have the opportunity to live and work in this territory.

Questions about the vocabulary used (traditional, ancestral, unceded)? See UBC’s “What is a land acknowledgment” post for more information.

What is a land acknowledgment?

A land acknowledgment is a statement which acknowledges Indigenous presence and the history of colonialism within a specific environment. Acknowledgments function as a gesture of respect and education; these acknowledgments ask settlers (both recent and historical) to situate themselves within an ongoing history of colonialism.

Learn More

Learn more about the Nations on which you conduct your studies at AC by exploring their websites:
Musqueam Nation (xʷməθkwəy̓əm)
Squamish Nation (Skwxwú7mesh)
Tsleil-Waututh Nation (Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh)

Want to learn more about Indigenous territories globally? Explore Native Land, which provides a digital map of Indigenous territories all over the world.

What is the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation?

September 30th, 2021 is the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

The day honours the lost children and Survivors of residential schools, their families and communities. Public commemoration of the tragic and painful history and ongoing impacts of residential schools is a vital component of the reconciliation process.

Both the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and Orange Shirt Day take place on September 30.

Orange Shirt Day is an Indigenous-led grassroots commemorative day that honours the children who survived Indian Residential Schools and remembers those who did not. This day relates to the experience of Phyllis Webstad, a Northern Secwpemc (Shuswap) from the Stswecem’c Xgat’tem First Nation, on her first day of school, where she arrived dressed in a new orange shirt, which was taken from her. It is now a symbol of the stripping away of culture, freedom and self-esteem experienced by Indigenous children over generations.

(Canadian Heritage, 2021)

Alexander College will observe September 30 as a non-instructional day. College campuses will be closed, allowing students and employees a day for reflection on the legacy of residential schools in Canada.


National Truth and Reconciliation Day is a chance to learn more about the history of residential schools in Canada. Alexander College Library has created an Indigenous Studies Guide, which provides books, eBooks, free online courses, and other resources for AC students to explore and learn. Check out the guide below for more information.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission ran from 2008 – 2015, and collected stories and experiences of Residential School survivors. In 2015 the commission released its final report, which included 94 distinct calls to action. Reading and reflecting on these calls to action is another important way that the AC community can learn and take action. Read through the calls to action by clicking the button below.


Attend one or several events on September 30th, 2021. Options for virtual and in-person events are listed below.

Remember Me: A National Day of Remembrance
A live-stream event from Parliament Hill in Ottawa; individuals can attend virtually on September 30th.

National Center for Truth and Reconciliation Public Events
A list of virtual public events, starting September 27th and going until October 1st. Live links or YouTube recordings will be available to watch.

SFU Livestream Events
SFU’s Burnaby and Vancouver campuses will be live-streaming virtual opening ceremonies for their Truth and Reconciliation Week, which are available to the public. Events will take place on September 27th and September 28th.

Skookum Surrey Ceremony
An in-person ceremony hosted by the Surrey Urban Indigenous Committee, and in partnership with the City of Surrey and SFU Surrey. It will take place in Surrey’s Holland Park on September 30th from 2-4 pm.

New Westminster Pipe Ceremony
An in-person event hosted by The Spirit of the Children Society, this event will take place at Pier Park on September 30th from 4-6 pm.

Sound House: Never Forgotten
An in-person Museum of Anthropology event which includes poetry, hip-hop and spoken word by Indigenous artists to commemorate Orange Shirt Day. It will take place from 7-9 pm at MOA’s Haida House.

Orange Shirt Day with the Britannia Community Services Centre
An in-person walk and gathering, starting at the Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Centre. It will take place from 9-11 am on September 30th.

An in-person performance event to honour Orange Shirt Day, presented by the Vancouver Art Gallery. It will take place on September 30, 2021, at 12 pm on šxʷƛ̓ənəq Xwtl’e7énḵ Square (formerly known as the Vancouver Art Gallery North Plaza).

Get Involved

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission defines reconciliation as:

establishing and maintaining a mutually respectful relationship between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples in this country. In order for that to happen, there has to be awareness of the past, an acknowledgement of the harm that has been inflicted, atonement for the causes, and action to change behaviour

(The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, 2015, p.6)

This definition includes action as a necessary component for meaningful reconciliation. Below are several examples:

  1. Put your learning into action and explore your local surroundings. Do you know your local land acknowledgment? Have you practiced pronunciations? Are you aware if there was a residential school close to you?
  2. Get involved and interested in how your local government is implementing the Calls to Action. Contact your local councilor/MLA/MP. You can find MLA contact information here, and MP contact information here.
  3. Find local organizations that have programming or other events you can continue to attend. In BC, this might include local Aboriginal Friendship Centres. You can find your local center here.

Connect with Health and Wellness

This is a difficult subject; Alexander College has resources available to students who wish to discuss issues that may be causing distress and personal struggle. Students can make an appointment with our Health and Wellness counsellor or chat virtually using the Here2Talk app.


Canadian Hertiage. (2021). National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. Government of Canada.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. (2015). Honouring the Truth, Reconciling for the Future: Summary of the Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada,

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