Honouring the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

Published on
September 25, 2023
Arts, heritage and events
hundreds of pairs of shoes are laid out at Parliament Hill as part of a memorial made following the discovery of unmarked graves at several former residential schools in 2021. Des centaines de paires de chaussures sont étalées sur la Colline du Parlement lors d’une commémoration suivant la découverte de sépultures non identifiées sur le site de plusieurs anciens pensionnats en 2021.

Feature Story

This Saturday, September 30 marks the third National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, a day where Canadians reflect upon the experiences and history of First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities in Canada. It is a day to acknowledge, reflect, and learn about the injustices they faced through the residential school system and the ways it continues to affect Indigenous Peoples in Canada.

The City of Ottawa honours intergenerational survivors, their families and communities who have been, and continue to be, impacted by the Residential School System. In recognition of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, the flags at all City facilities will be lowered to half-mast from sunrise on Saturday, September 30 until sunrise on Sunday, October 1. At City Hall, the Survivors Flag will also be flown at half-mast from sunrise on September 30 until sunrise on October 1, in front of the Heritage Building and on Marion Dewar Plaza.

During this same time period, the Heritage Building and the OTTAWA sign on the ByWard Market will be illuminated in orange.

Some City services will operate on different schedules on the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. To learn more, please visit National Day for Truth and Reconciliation schedule changes.

Why we wear orange shirts on National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

National Day for Truth and Reconciliation falls on the same day as Orange Shirt Day, which honours the story of Phyllis Webstad, a former residential school student who had her orange shirt her grandmother gifted to her taken away on her first day at residential school.

The orange shirt has become a symbol of commemoration of the experiences of Indigenous children who were removed from their families to attend residential schools where their language and culture were repressed, and many children endured physical, emotional or sexual abuse. Whether you’re attending an event or taking some time to learn on your own, you are encouraged to wear an orange shirt on September 30 to help spread awareness.

Ways you can observe and honour the day

On the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, we can learn and reflect on the meaning of this day by attending an event, reading the Truth and Reconciliation report, speaking and listening to Elders or taking a moment for quiet reflection. Reconciliation is a shared responsibility for all Canadians and requires action not just on this day but every day.

Here are a few ways to observe and honour the day:

  • Seven Ottawa Public Library branches will be open... Several programs will be available at these branches, including a bilingual family Storywalk® of the book Every Child Matters by Phyllis Webstad, and the opportunity to help build a heart garden and paint remembrance rocks to honour the children who died in residential schools. For residents unable to participate in in-person programming, virtual options are also available. To see which branches will be open and explore the full list of programs, visit biblioottawalibrary.ca.
  • Ottawa Public Library staff have also put together book and film lists that you can read, watch and learn from throughout the year:
  • APTN, the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation and the Anishinaabe Algonquin Nation are gathering to host "Remembering the Children" on Parliament Hill at 1 pm on Saturday, September 30. This event will be broadcast live across the country on multiple networks for those unable to attend in person. Click here for more information.

  • The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation will host a series of virtual lunch and learn sessions throughout the week. Visit the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation’s website to learn more information and to register.
  • Visitors at the Canadian Museum of History will be invited to join the conversation on truth and reconciliation on Saturday, September 30 and Sunday, October 1. Visit historymuseum.ca to learn more.
  • Several events will be held in recognition of National Day for Truth and Reconciliation at the Beechwood Cemetery. On Saturday, September 30, a short film will be screened at the Beechwod National Memorial Centre’s Sacred Space. Following the screening, visitors can participate in a guided Reconciliation Tour and attend the unveiling of the Children’s Sacred Forest at 2 pm. For more information and to register, visit beechwoodottawa.ca.
  • The Peace Tower at Parliament Hill will be illuminated orange from Saturday, September 30 at 7 pm to sunrise on Sunday, October 1.