Statement from VDLC on Canada’s National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

September 25, 2023

September 30 is Canada’s National Day of Truth and Reconciliation. VDLC acknowledges the underlying title and inherent rights of self-determination of Indigenous peoples, and our presence as uninvited guests in the traditional and unceded territories of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Peoples. The truth is that we must learn from and work alongside Indigenous peoples in order to make things right.  

September 30 was chosen as “Orange Shirt Day” by Indigenous people in 2013 to commemorate and honor the survivors of The Indian Residential School System (IRSS) and those who never returned home. At this time of year, over the course of more than 100 years, Indigenous children were forced to return to IRSS institutions where they were targeted for indoctrination and torture organized by the Canadian state to weaken and destroy Indigenous nations. In 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) recommended that the Canadian government establish a statutory holiday so that Canadians may never forget the history and ongoing legacy of the IRSS. September 30 is now also Canada’s National Day of Truth and Reconciliation.

In solidarity with Indigenous Peoples, we mourn the loss of the children who did not make it home and honor the courageous survivors and their allies who worked for decades to break the walls of silence and denial surrounding the IRSS. On this day of solemn reflection, we acknowledge that racism and religious persecution were used to dispossess Indigenous peoples of their territories, and that we must educate ourselves about the ongoing and current impacts of colonization and genocide on Indigenous peoples. We recognize that the labour movement in Canada has not been the ally it needs to be to Indigenous peoples. We must do the urgent work of ending systemic racism by engaging in a meaningful process of reconciliation with Indigenous peoples that leads to decolonization.

Many Indigenous leaders have warned that “reconciliation” has stalled and that Indigenous perspectives must be employed to understand the critical issues impacting Indigenous peoples. Canadians must ask ourselves how we are holding our governments, associations, and ourselves accountable and transform our talk into action.

On September 30, we encourage workers across BC to learn, reflect, and act. Here are some resources that you may find useful: 

Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: 94 Calls to Action

Calls to Action Accountability: A 2022 Status Update on Reconciliation

Indigenous Watchdog

Orange Shirt Society

Sign CLC’s petition “Justice for First Nations’, Inuit, and Metis is Long Overdue”

C̓əsnaʔəm: The City Before the City: Discover Musqueam’s Ancient Landscape and Living Culture

National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation: Lunch and Learn Webinars, Sept 25 – 29. Register online

BCFED Reconciliation Plan Framework

TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION: CUPE TAKING ACTION THROUGH COLLECTIVE BARGAINING

UFCW: Indigenous Rights and the Workplace Bargaining Guide

Support Services and Resources:

Indian Residential School Survivors’ Society:  Toll-Free Line 1 800 721 0066 

Indian Residential School Crisis Line: (604) 985-4464

Hope For Wellness: Toll-Free Line 1 (855) 242-3310

Metis Crisis Line: 1 (833) 638-4722

KUU-US Crisis Line: 1 800 588 8717 

Tsow-Tun-Le Lum: 1 866 925 4419

First Nations Health Authority Mental Health Benefit

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