National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

Some people may find the information included here traumatizing. The 24-Hour Residential School Crisis Line can be reached at 1-866-925-4419.

The Haven, here on the traditional and ancestral territory of the Snuneymuxw People, recognizes the new National Day for Truth and Reconciliation today, Thursday, September 30th. We remember all the survivors of, and those who lost their lives in, Canada’s residential schools.

In 2015 the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC), in collaboration with Indigenous Peoples, called upon the federal government to establish a statutory holiday to honour survivors of residential schools, their families and communities, to ensure that public commemoration of the history and legacy of residential schools remains a vital component of the reconciliation process. This was one of the TRC’s 94 calls to action. 

The day is to recognize and remember the legacy of residential schools where more than 150,000 First Nations, Metis and Inuit children were forced to attend between the 1870s and 1997 and where 4,100 named and unnamed students died. Estimates indicate the true number may be closer to 25,000. This year alone, over a thousand unmarked graves were found at the sites of several former residential schools across Canada. We grieve with Indigenous Peoples. 

Some Indigenous leaders have called on Indigenous and non-Indigenous people across the country to mark this new federal statutory holiday with solemn reflection. Others expressed “mixed feelings” about the day. For Murray Sinclair, former senator and chief commissioner of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), Sept 30th marks a day when we should all stand for reconciliation. “The most important goal of the TRC wasn’t just uncovering what happened at residential schools, but ‘to make it part of our national memory,’ so that it cannot be forgotten. That’s why legislating it was important, because it forces you to acknowledge that this day, something happened,” he said. 

In BC, the province is working with Indigenous leaders, organizations and communities on the best and most respectful ways to mark Truth and Reconciliation Day in an ongoing way. This year, while many public services will remain open, they will operate at reduced levels as public servants honour the day, and most schools, post-secondary institutions, some health sector workplaces, and Crown corporations will be closed. The Haven is open on September 30th and staff came together to remember and mark the legacy of residential schools. As we individually and together determine what September 30th means for us, the Haven is committed to being part of the healing.

There are many marches for “Truth, Reconciliation and Every Child Matters” happening in communities across the country that you can join. The CBC is also offering several programs on Sept 30th. For more information, please see: 

We treasure the stories told by the many people coming to the Haven to heal, and the tears and connections so many of us have shared in the circle together. These shared experiences can make a profound difference as we work to create a kinder and more compassionate world on the path of truth, reconciliation, and healing. Our wish is that together we can build a culture where all are free to be seen, heard, loved. 

We raise our hands with gratitude and respect to the Snuneymuxw People, the Hul’qumi’num speaking First Peoples who have cared for this place, where the Haven is located, for millennia, and to all the Hul’qumi’num Peoples whose traditional territories, “s’aalh tumuhw”, stretch across southeast Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands. Here is a resource to find the First Nation territory and languages wherever you are across North America: 

Photo credit: Samuel Lewis Harrison

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