September 30 – National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

  7 October 2021

From the desk of the CEO

It hardly seems possible that more than six years have passed since the Truth and Reconciliation Commission issued its 94 Calls to Action.  Among the Calls to Action, #80 called on “…the federal government, in collaboration with Aboriginal peoples, to establish, as a statutory holiday, a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation to honour Survivors, their families, and communities, and ensure that public commemoration of the history and legacy of residential schools remains a vital component of the reconciliation process.”

As we mark this first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, our thoughts turn to the more than 150,000 First Nations, Inuit and Métis children who were forced to attend residential schools, and the many thousands among them who never returned home.  We think of their families, and an unimaginable pain that can never be erased.  And we mourn.  We do this because there can be no reconciliation without truth; and, like it or not, our truth includes the dark stain of state-sponsored genocide with deep roots in the past and a host of negative impacts today.

This year on September 30 CHF BC and its group of social purpose enterprises will observelearn, and act.

We will observe the occasion by stepping away from our work as a sign of respect.  Our offices will be closed, and staff will be encouraged to attend any of the online or in-person events scheduled on September 30 or at other times.  The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation has issued a schedule of events for the week, and there are many local resources to draw on.

We will learn by engaging the issues individually and as a team.  Call to Action #92 calls on the corporate sector in Canada to adopt the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as a reconciliation framework, and to “…Provide education for management and staff on the history of Aboriginal peoples, including the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Treaties and Aboriginal rights, Indigenous law, and Aboriginal–Crown relations. This will require skills-based training in intercultural competency, conflict resolution, human rights, and anti-racism.”  Effective immediately, we commit to implementing this Call to Action as part of our formal staff development curriculum across our entire team.

We will act, initially by supporting Indigenous-led organizations working to address the inter-generational oppression and trauma caused by residential schools and other colonial institutions.  On September 30, CHF BC will donate its entire payroll for the day to the Indian Residential School Survivors Society

One national day cannot erase or atone for centuries of violence and colonization.  Reconciliation will necessarily be built on a commitment to learning and action based on justice, respect, and equality.  Truth is about our past and our present; reconciliation is the story of our future.

Thom Armstrong