Starting 2021, the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation will be observed annually on September 30. We believe that reconciliation is an on-going effort forever to recognize the history of residential schools and honour the importance of supporting Indigenous communities. Here at Startup Canada, our office will be closed every September 30 to allow our team the time and space to learn and reflect on what this day means for Indigenous entrepreneurs and communities. Whether big or small, we encourage all Canadians to take action on this day to honour and remember the thousands of survivors and those lost as well.
If you’re looking for support, former residential school students can call (866) 925-4419 for emotional crisis referral services and information. Indigenous peoples can also call the Hope for Wellness Help Line at (855) 242-3310 or connect online. Additionally, non-Indigenous peoples can call Crisis Services Canada for support and help at (833) 456-4566.
Led by an Indigenous grassroots community, Orange Shirt Day also falls on September 30 and commemorates the children, families, and communities who survived residential schools while also remembering those who never returned. This movement raises awareness of the tragic history of residentials schools, and allows all Canadians to show their solidarity with Indigenous communities during a time of grief.
There are many resources online that can provide reliable information to help deepen your understanding and knowledge of residential school survivors and the lived experiences of Indigenous peoples. For example, CBC is running a full-day of special programming that amplifies the voices of Indigenous peoples and their communities. You can also tune into our special Startup Women Podcast episode with Monica James (Regional Manager, Client Diversity, BDC) on support for Indigenous entrepreneurs, or listen now to the Pow Wow Pitch Podcast which specifically features Indigenous entrepreneurs and highlights the importance of Indigenous entrepreneurship in Canada. The Government of Canada also provides multiple resources where you can expand your knowledge on Indigenous cultures and history.
Dedicate time to reflect
Perhaps most important, carve out time in your day to root back to the intention of National Day of Truth and Reconciliation. Here are some prompts from the Centre for Public Dialogue and Office of Social Justice to help you reflect on this day:
- “When you consider the widespread abuse that happened to these innocent children, when you attempt to comprehend the significant loss of life that occurred for years in the residential school system, what is your initial reaction?”
- “Consider the rights that you enjoy as a citizen and the ways in which Indigenous people have not always experienced the same rights. Pause to reflect on this for a moment. Can you imagine what your world would look like if you needed a pass from an Indian agent in order to leave your home community? What about forbidding you to speak your native language or giving you a new name? Does this stir up anger, sadness or frustration for you? What would it feel like if those you loved dealt with the same unjust realities? What would it feel like if your whole community lived in this reality?”
Join the conversation
Truly meaningful and constructive discussion surrounding reconciliation starts from opening your mind and ears. By listening and respecting those with lived experiences who are willing to share their stories, that’s how we can start to have real change. You can always find conversations online by following the #NDTR on social media.
Indigenous entrepreneurship is vital to the Canadian entrepreneurial ecosystem. We must do better as a society to support Indigenous communities in order to move toward a more inclusive and equitable world. National Day of Truth and Reconciliation takes us one step closer however, your commitment can go beyond one day. Ultimately, whether you dedicate hours educating yourself or simply encouraging your network to join in on Orange Shirt Day, taking some form of action is better than no action at all.