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

September 28, 2021

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 suffered 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.

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

Webinar, Sept. 30, 2021, 8:00 am: Squamish Stories with Kung Jaadee

Webinar, Sept. 30, 7:00 pm: Suffer the Little Children: Tamara Starblanket on genocide, Indigenous Nations and the Canadian State (with Ketty Nivyabandi, Secretary General, Amnesty International Canada)

Tk’emlúps Nation extends invitation to mark National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

Read the Truth and Reconciliation Commission 94 Calls to Action 

Read the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

The National Indian Residential School Crisis Line has been set up to provide 24/7 support to residential school survivors and others who are affected. Call: 1 (866) 925-4419

For more events and actions, see the BC Federation of Labour events page

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