Content warning: This content deals with violence against Indigenous peoples
CANE Honours September 30 as the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and Orange Shirt Day
The Canadian Association of Nurses for the Environment (CANE) acknowledges and honours Indigenous children, families, and communities across Canada who have been, and continue to be, harmed by Canada’s residential school system.
CANE encourages members and all Canadian nurses to read the story of Phyllis Webstad to learn about the origins of Orange Shirt Day and the Every Child Matters movement. Through the hard-won efforts of Indigenous peoples in Canada, Orange Shirt Day has now become a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation to commemorate the history and legacy of residential schools. This federal statutory holiday in response to Call to Action #80 is a positive step, however it is important to note that of the 94 Calls to Action only a fraction have been acted upon. Much work remains for the Canadian government and citizens from coast to coast to coast.
While the last residential school in Canada was closed in 1997, Indigenous children and families across the country continue to face and challenge systemic anti-Indigenous racism. 2021 Canadian Census data shows that, while Indigenous children account for 8% of Canadian children, they make up 53.8% of all children in foster care. We encourage reading this APTN news article which outlines the extensive past and present ripple effects of residential schools and chronic underfunding of child welfare systems. Despite the challenges of discriminatory policies that have heavily impacted Indigenous children and families, Indigenous peoples in Canada have always resisted colonization and their resilience, activism, perseverance, and hard work is building a powerful wave of change. Jordan’s Principle is an example of Indigenous leadership that counteracts the harm of discriminatory policies to improve the quality of medical care for Indigenous children.
On this second National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, we encourage you to reflect on what Truth and Reconciliation mean to you and how you can participate in Indigenous-led decolonization. Consider some of the following:
- Learn about the Indigenous territory you inhabit. Consider the following questions:
- What Indigenous communities are local to where you live/grew up/feel connected to?
- What is the treaty or comprehensive land claim in your area?
- What is the name of the community in their own language?
- Is there a cultural centre? Is there a cultural outreach person – if so, who are they?
- In addition to the Calls to Action, read the Yellowhead Institute’s Yellowhead Institute’s Calls to Action Accountability: A 2021 Status Update on Reconciliation.
- Donate to a local organization which supports survivors of residential schools, such as the Indian Residential School Survivor Society, the Orange Shirt Society, or the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society.
- Listen to one of many interviews with Cindy Blackstock, co-founder of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society.
- Take the Indigenous Canada online course offered through the University of Alberta free of cost.
“We will arrive at reconciliation when Indigenous peoples in this country experience, at the bare minimum, a living standard that reflects their visions of healthy and prosperous communities.”
– DR. EVA JEWELL & DR. IAN MOSBY