Today, September 30, marks the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in Canada. Many people will be wearing an orange shirt as a way to honour residential school survivors and stand against the bullying and racism that our country has been guilty of in our interactions with Indigenous peoples.
For more than two hundred years (1600-1800s), churches ran mission schools for Indigenous children that later became the residential school system run by the government of Canada. Residential schools had been set up across Canada to eradicate the culture and language of Indigenous peoples.
For seven generations, Indigenous and non-indigenous children were told that the language and culture of Indigenous peoples were irrelevant. As The Honourable Murray Sinclair, Chief Commissioner of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, says, "Education got us into this mess, and education will get us out of it.” The educational system needs to help transform our beliefs and actions by taking intentional steps toward truth and reconciliation. Here are some suggestions on what that could look like:
Stand up and call out racism - learn about your own blindspots and microaggressions.
Read and learn about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) 94 Calls to Action.
Choose one of the calls to action and commit to taking steps that reflect it.
Learn whose territory you live on and work on (see native-land.ca). When you go to a new place, learn whose land you are visiting.
Have a conversation with your family and friends about what you are learning about history, reconciliation, and the kind of Canada you want to live in.
Read books by Indigenous authors.
Wear an orange shirt on Truth and Reconciliation day as a means to demonstrate a posture of openness to having conversations about residential schooling, bullying, and/or racism.
It is my hope that in the context of our Christian schools and classrooms, we can continue to listen to the stories of those who have been wronged. To see each other as fellow image bearers of God such that we live out our calling to love God and love our neighours. “When our lives have been transformed by God’s grace, we see many things in new ways. And this seeing is guided by love, by an abiding desire to care about what God cares about--to rejoice in what makes God’s heart glad and to grieve about what saddens him. That kind of seeing, ‘beholding,’ has profound implications for how we view people and ideas and products and processes of culture” (Mouw, 2011, p. 92). May you find hope and healing in this National Day of Truth and Reconciliation.
Mouw, R. J. (2011). World-viewing. In Abraham Kuyper: A short and personal