Honouring the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

Published on
September 22, 2022
Arts, heritage and events
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Friday, September 30 marks the second National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

This day provides an opportunity to bring awareness to the painful legacy and impact of the residential school system. It is a time to advance our reconciliation efforts to build a better future for everyone in our community.

The federal government established the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in 2021 in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action #80. The Calls to Action provide important direction for all levels of government, institutions and all Canadians to redress the legacy of residential schools and advance reconciliation.

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.

Wide shot of red moose sculpture with two birds sitting on its antler and back.
Simon Brascoupé, Algonquin Moose | Orignal algonquin, 2019, painted steel / acier peint, City of Ottawa Art Collection / Collection d'art de la Ville d'Ottawa, 2019-0091, photo: City of Ottawa / Ville d'Ottawa.
Working towards reconciliation

The City continues to make progress towards our reconciliation commitments. Ottawa is built on the unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishinabe Nation, and the Ottawa region is home to an estimated 40,000 First Nations, Inuit and Métis people.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action, alongside the Principles of Reconciliation, informed the development of the City’s first Reconciliation Action Plan in 2018, which included work aimed at raising cultural awareness for City staff.

In 2022, the City established a new Indigenous Relations Branch. This team works alongside Indigenous and non-Indigenous partners to identify opportunities for systemic changes that improve access to programs and services. It also supports the City’s work to further reconciliation, including a renewal of the Reconciliation Action Plan.

Hi there. My name is Christine Malone, and I'm a diversity and inclusion program for the project specialist here at The City of Ottawa. I'm personally very excited to see the creation of the Indigenous Relations Office. This allows for a focused effort towards our work on reconciliation and decolonization. Reconciliation cannot happen without the opportunity for ongoing learning, partnership and engagement.

That allows us to make the change we're looking for. And that's why we're working on our workforce representation. The City has a diversity and inclusion plan that includes representation of people who identify as indigenous. I think it's very important to have indigenous representation at all levels of The City, particularly in leadership. When you have an indigenous leadership, you have the opportunity to make sure that those issues that are top of mind for indigenous people of different perspectives whether they be First Nations, Inuit, or Métis are brought forward and considered on an ongoing basis.

I am very proud to be part of the First Nations and Métis Affinity Group that brings staff together from from a variety of world experiences and we are able to support and, and talk to each other about our experiences as Indigenous people at The City. The City is a very dynamic place with a lot of different lines of business and activity going on all the time.

We are the area of government which is closest to the citizens of The City, and we have an opportunity to effect change on a local level. I always think about growing up as a as a young woman and my grandmother telling stories about the importance of collaboration and how with that work, we can do more as a community than you can do as an individual.

And I think that you'll see that through a variety of communities that we can be more successful when we work together. No two days are ever quite the same in the work that we do. You have an opportunity here to grow your career and be part of making positive change.
How you can 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:

In recognition of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, the flags at City Hall, including the Survivor’s Flag, and flags at all City facilities will be lowered to half-mast from sunrise on Friday, September 30 until sunrise on Saturday, October 1. Additionally, the following buildings will be illuminated in orange:

  • Marian Dewar Plaza from sunset on Thursday, September 29 to sunrise Saturday, October 1
  • Heritage Building, from sunset on Friday, September 30 to sunrise on Saturday, October 1
  • OTTAWA sign in the ByWard Market, from sunset on Friday, September 30 to sunrise on Saturday, October 1
Wearing orange: a symbol of commemoration

Whether you’re attending an event or taking some time to learn on your own, we encourage you to wear an orange shirt on the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation to help spread awareness.

Friday, September 30 coincides with Orange Shirt Day, which honours the story of Phyllis (Jack) Webstad, a former residential school student who had her orange shirt 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.

Last year, thousands of unmarked graves were discovered across Canada at former residential school sites. The work to uncover additional graves continues today in a number of Indigenous communities. In response to these discoveries, the Assembly of First Nations and other Indigenous groups organized a visit with Pope Francis where he offered an apology to survivors for the Catholic Church’s role in the residential school system.

For more information on City programs and services, visit ottawa.ca, call 3-1-1 (TTY: 613-580-2401) or 613-580-2400 to contact the City using Canada Video Relay Service. You can also connect with us through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram