The Union of BC Indian Chiefs is reminding British Columbians that National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is not a celebratory holiday, but a day for “reflection, education, open dialogue, and action.”
Saturday is the first time B.C. is joining the federal government in recognizing the statutory holiday. The federal government began recognizing the day as a statutory holiday for federal workers and workers in federally-regulated workplaces in 2021.
In a statement Saturday, the UBCIC asks British Columbians to take the day to learn more about Canada's history with Indigenous people.
"UBCIC invites the public to stand in solidarity with First Nations, survivors and inter-generational survivors who have shared devastating truths about the atrocities committed by the church and government of Canada in Indian Residential Schools across the country, and their counterparts in Indian Boarding Schools south of the border," the organization says.
“Residential schools were a tool of assimilation and colonization and were directly connected to the institutionalized theft of unceded First Nations land and resources. For too long First Nations’ voices have been met with denial, skepticism, belittlement and silence.
“We encourage the public to come together with compassion and open-heartedness; we call on you to learn the truth about Canada’s racist and genocidal origins on stolen First Nations’ land and to understand the tremendous significance this day holds for First Nations communities, survivors and their families who continue to live with the traumas inflicted at Indian Residential Schools and other violent institutions.”
The UBCIC calls for more action on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action, published in 2015. The Assembly of First Nations says just 13 of these recommendations have been completed so far, three of them in the last year.
National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is recognized as a statutory holiday for all workers in B.C., Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Prince Edward Island and Yukon.
It was first established in 2013 as Orange Shirt Day, a grassroots initiative inspired by Phyllis Webstad's story of having the orange shirt her grandmother gave her taken away when she arrived at residential school.
The day was created to promote awareness and education of the residential school system and the impact it has had on Indigenous communities.