This New Canadian Holiday Reflects On The Legacy Of Indigenous Residential Schools

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People march during the Every Child Matters walk in honor of children who lost their lives in Canada’s Residential School system, in Toronto, Canada, on July 1.

Cole Burston/AFP via Getty Images

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Cole Burston/AFP via Getty Images

A Federal Probe Into Indian Boarding School Gravesites Seeks To Bring Healing

Survivors have long advocated for recognition and reparations, and Canada created a Truth and Reconciliation Commission as part of those efforts. The commission ran from 2008 to 2015, and released a final report with 94 calls to action — one of which called for a federal statutory day of commemoration.

She Struggled To Reclaim Her Indigenous Name. She Hopes Others Have It Easier

The new holiday also falls on Orange Shirt Day, an Indigenous-led grassroots movement that asks Canadians to reflect on the treatment of First Nations people. It was founded by residential school survivor Phyllis Webstad, whose favorite orange shirt taken away on her first day of school.

U.S. Boarding Schools Were The Blueprint For Indigenous Family Separation In Canada

U.S. Boarding Schools Were The Blueprint For Indigenous Family Separation In Canada




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The topic is in the news this week for another significant reason: A federal court there has paved the way for billions of dollars in compensation to First Nations children who suffered discrimination in the state welfare system, after a judge dismissed legal challenges from the Canadian government.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued a statement Thursday urging Canadians to reflect on the «painful and lasting impacts» of residential schools, calling the holiday «an opportunity for us all to learn more, and to affirm the need for reconciliation and commit ourselves to the work ahead.»

Here’s more information about the history behind the holiday and ways to observe it, as well as mental health resources available in Canada. The CBC has these stories on why Canada is marking the holiday this year, ways to participate and how to talk to kids about it.

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