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National Day for Truth and Reconciliation – September 30

  • Bulletin; Human Rights & Equity
BC Nurses’ Union reflects on the history and legacy of residential schools

​Sept. 30 is a day to honour the survivors of residential schools, their families, loved ones and communities.  Observance of this day across Canada began in 2013 as Orange Shirt Day.  The date reflects the time of year when Indigenous children were taken from their homes to residential schools. It was named Orange Shirt Day for former residential school student Phyllis Webstad who told her story of her first day at residential school as a six-year-old girl. Her new orange shirt, a gift from her grandmother, was taken from her. Webstad’s experience now symbolizes the stripping away of Indigenous children’s culture and freedom.

Earlier this year, the Canadian government established a new statutory holiday to coincide with Orange Shirt Day. The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation answers one of the 94 calls to action cited in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s final report, which is to “ensure that public commemoration of the history and legacy of residential schools remains a vital component of the reconciliation process”.

For BCNU members and staff, Sept. 30 offers us an opportunity to reflect on, and begin to undo, the colonial harms perpetrated in residential schools which continue to be experienced by Indigenous peoples in our health-care system. Today, we recommit to decolonizing health care and ensuring cultural safety for all Indigenous peoples. We are also committed to addressing anti-Indigenous racism in our health-care system while remaining steadfast on our path to a genuine and just process of truth and reconciliation.


If you are a First Nations, Inuit or Metis member in need of a safe place to address the legacy of discrimination and racism that has affected you, please consider connecting with the BCNU Indigenous Leadership Circle (ILC). The ILC can help you identify and meet your needs as an Indigenous person working in health care. To learn more about the ILC, please visit our webpage

Former residential school students can call 1-866-925-4419 for emotional crisis referral services and information on other health supports from the Government of Canada.

Indigenous peoples across Canada can also go to The Hope for Wellness Help Line 24-7 to access counselling services and crisis intervention. Call the toll-free help line at 1-855-242-3310 or connect to the online chat.

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