National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

In 2021, the country observed the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation (NDTR) held on September 30th coinciding with Orange Shirt Day. Orange Shirt Day, initiated in 2013, serves as a campaign to promote awareness and education of the residential school system and its impact on Indigenous Canadians. The orange shirt became a symbol of awareness because of the bravery exhibited by Phyllis Webstad - a residential school survivor. When Phyllis was taken to residential school, her new orange shirt was taken away from her and was never returned. This became a symbol of the forced assimilation and abuse of Indigenous children in residential schools (Orange Shirt Society, 2023). I remember Orange Shirt Day in 2017, the City of Lethbridge Reconciliation advisory committee, to which I had the pleasure of co-chairing, had just had our “10 year Reconciliation Implementation Plan” unanimously approved by our City Council. That September, our community gathered in City Hall to celebrate the opening of our first Reconciliation week. I remember standing there excited about the turnout by the community and enjoying the humour of our famous MC Travis Plaited Hare from the Kainai Nation. Suddenly, I heard my name called and my Blackfoot friends Jacinda Weiss and Amanda Scout (co-chair) waved me to the front to receive my greatest honour of a Blackfoot name, in recognition of the contributions I had made to the community. I was extremely nervous but was extremely humbled to have my friend and Kainai Elder Tom Littlebear bless me with the name “Mattsowapinaa”, which in English translates to “Honourable Man”. In front of many of my peers, they played me an honour song, gifted me with a blanket, moccasins and a ribbon shirt and applauded me. Following that, I got to lead the march from City Hall to the Galt Museum with my good friend Joey Blood and the previous Mayor Chris Spearman carrying our community’s Reconciliation banner. When I think of Orange Shirt Day, or now known as the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, this powerful memory always surfaces as it was such a great honour. 

This year marks the eighth anniversary since the release of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) six volume final report. With the third NDTR upon us, it is time more than ever to move from a place of intention to a place of action, for which the TRC refers to as Reconcili-ACTION. In that case, what steps can we take as an active ally to Indigenous peoples? and what can you or our organizations do to advance the needle forward? 

Getting involved in taking action and reconciliation is an important step toward healing and addressing the impacts of the residential school system. Here are some ways to get involved.  

  1. Educate yourself: Start by taking the opportunity to educate yourself and learn about the history and legacy of residential schools in Canada. Read books/articles like the “Reconciliation Manifesto” by Arthur Manuel and Ronald Derrickson (2017), watch documentaries/movies like Bones of Crows (2022), or listen to podcasts like the “Warrior Life” by Pamela Palmater. These resources explore the experiences of survivors and the broader context of colonization and assimilation policies. As well, CCDI Consulting has added  Indigenous Inclusion 2.0 and 3.0 sessions that focus on incorporating Indigenous ways of knowing and assisting organizations with writing/implementing engagement and TRC strategies.
  2. Engage with TRC Events: Make sure to offer employees an opportunity to attend TRC events. This could include conferences, workshops, public hearings, experiential learning opportunities, or webinars. An organization can also bring in a professional Indigenous speaker to share their lived experiences as it connects back to the work. Attending events can increase your understanding and provide you with opportunities to connect with survivors and hear their stories.

  3. Support Indigenous Organizations: Take the opportunity to support Indigenous organizations. This means finding Indigenous-led organizations or groups working on reconciliation and supporting their initiatives. This can include volunteering, donating, or participating in their activities

  4. Advocate for Change: As our journey towards learning continues, it is important to take what we have learned and advocate for change. This can mean writing letters to your local government representatives or engaging in advocacy campaigns to express your support for the TRC Calls to Action.  These Calls to Action address a wide range of issues, from education to justice reform, and advocating for their implementation is crucial. Advocating for change also means sharing your knowledge and utilizing your voice and platforms to raise awareness about the history and impacts of residential schools. Talk to friends, family, and colleagues about what you have learned and encourage them to educate themselves by recommending resources. Leverage social media to share resources or engage with educational events in your community.

  5. Support Survivors and Families: Make sure to support survivors and their families by learning about support services available to survivors and offering assistance if appropriate. This could involve connecting survivors to support services/resources, volunteering at support centers, or contributing to fundraising efforts for healing programs.

  6. Engage with Indigenous Traditional Knowledge: It is also important to learn about Indigenous traditional knowledge by engaging in respectful dialogue with Indigenous individuals and communities. Seek opportunities to learn from Indigenous knowledge, cultures, and traditions. Participate in cultural events or initiatives that promote intercultural understanding and respect. It is important to be mindful of approaching involvement with humility and a willingness to listen and learn. Building meaningful relationships based on trust, respect, and reciprocity is essential in supporting reconciliation efforts.

  7. Practice Sustainable Allyship: Becoming a meaningful ally to Indigenous peoples involves ongoing education, active listening, and taking action to support Indigenous rights, cultures, and well-being. It means we must be our own SCHOLAR in learning about the rich diversity, histories, and contemporary issues encountered by Indigenous peoples. It is important to educate ourselves about the impacts of colonization, systemic racism, and the ongoing struggles for self-determination. It means to ADVOCATE and CHAMPION Indigenous causes/events and to seek out opportunities to listen to Indigenous perspectives and experiences. AMPLIFY Indigenous voices and support their initiatives for self-determination. You can also provide recommendations by being a SPONSOR, or in the case of building relationships and trust, be a CONFIDANT to Indigenous colleagues/individuals. It is also important to engage in land acknowledgments, which is a focal component of CCDI Consulting’s Indigenous Inclusion 2.0, by personalizing and situating ourselves within our acknowledgment of the land. This is understanding the connection of knowledge to the land, the cultural connection, and the storied history of the land that we live, work, and play. Practice allyship in a sustainable and consistent manner because being an ally is a lifelong commitment. Recognize that Indigenous peoples are not a monolithic group and that allyship will require different actions depending on the specific context and needs of the community you are supporting. Remember, being an ally is an ongoing process, and it is important to be receptive to feedback, adapt your approach, and engage in allyship in a respectful and humble manner. 

  8. Challenge Stereotypes and Microaggressions: It is also important to challenge stereotypes and microaggressions by being an UPSTANDER. This means being aware of and challenging stereotypes and microaggressions that perpetuate harmful narratives about Indigenous peoples. Speak up against racism and misinformation when you witness it, whether it is in your personal relationships, workplace, or the broader community.  

If you are interested in continuing your learning, check out a list of resources below or for more information about CCDI Consulting Inc. and our services contact us at or visit our website at   


  • The Reconciliation Manifesto by Arthur Manuel and Grand Chief Ronald Derrickson (2017). 
  • Clearing the Plains by James Daschuk (2013) 
  • Medicine Unbundled by Gary Geddes (2017). 
  • Unreconciled by Jesse Wente (2021) 
  • The Northwest is Our Mother by Jean Teillet (2019)  
  • Warrior Life Podcast by Pamela Palmater 
  • Squeeky Wheel Podcast by Ross Pambrun and Lawrence Gervais 
  • Into the West directed by Steven Spielberg (Series - 2005) – available on You Tube 
  • Indian Horse directed by Stephen Campanelli (Movie – 2017) – available on Netflix  
  • Atanarjuat (The Fast Runner) directed by Zackarias Kunuk (Movie – 2002)



World Wide Web. (Retrieved, 2023). Phyllis Story. Orange Shirt Society Phyllis’ Story – Orange Shirt Society (


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