National Truth and Reconciliation Day: How To Integrate Awareness  In the Workplace

National Truth and Reconciliation Day: How To Integrate Awareness In the Workplace

On September 30th, 2023, Canada observes National Truth and Reconciliation Day, a day dedicated to honouring the lives of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis children who endured the devastating legacy of residential schools. This day is symbolized by the Orange Shirt, signifying hope and a commitment to a better future. To promote awareness and reconciliation, both individuals and organizations can take meaningful steps. Here are seven ways to integrate awareness into your workplace.

  1. Learn Together: Gather your team to learn about Indigenous history in Canada and the Residential School System. There are numerous resources available, such as books like “First Nations 101” by Lynda Gray and podcasts like Orange Shirt Day with Vanessa Mitchell, Tracy Mooney, and Jody Wagner. Consider taking online courses, like the one offered by the University of Alberta on Indigenous People in Canada.
  2. Acknowledge the Territory: Start correspondence and meetings by acknowledging the traditional territories on which you live and work. This simple act recognizes the Indigenous peoples who have stewarded these lands for generations. Visit educational institutes like The Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Center at the University of British Columbia for deeper insights.
  3. Attend Reconciliation Events: Participate as a team in local National Truth and Reconciliation events, whether in person or virtually. These events offer opportunities for education, reflection, and solidarity. For instance, Tsawwassen First Nation is hosting a “Walk for Truth and Reconciliation” on September 30th from 9:45am-12:00pm beginning at their Rec Center.
  4. Support Indigenous Businesses: Promote reconciliation by supporting local First Nations businesses, artists, and products. Look for Indigenous-owned businesses in your area and purchase their products or services. For example, Angela’s Boutique in Ladner, BC sells Orange Shirts, while Salish Beading Beauties creates beautiful beaded jewelry.
  5. Hire a First Nations Consultant: Consider hiring a First Nations consultant to educate your organization. Businesses like Hummingbird Rising, founded by Musqueam member Rhiannon Bennett and adult educator Andrea Hilder, who aim to foster understanding and compassion among Non-Indigenous Canadians.
  6. Create Visible Sentiments: Make your sentiments visible by sharing space with others in your community. Take part in a shoe collection or interactive activities that allow people to express condolences and prayers. These gestures demonstrate sincere respect and compassion for Indigenous communities. A collective voice of sincere respect is powerful and fosters resilience.

    art board decorated for national truth and reconciliation day 2022

    shoes to represent lost children

  7. In 2022, Erin Alger organized an event at The Delta Municipal Hall. Shoes were collected representing children who were lost and subsequently donated, a collection of books and materials were available to view and other community members and I facilitated an interactive project, allowing visitors to write uplifting messages on sticky notes. These boards were gifted to the sc̓əwaθən məsteyəx (Tsawwassen First Nations) and the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam Indian Band), whose shared, traditional, ancestral, and unceded territories we reside, in an effort to offer a collective voice of sincere respect and compassion and to acknowledge the amazing resilience of their communities).

  8. Embrace Creative Activities: Foster team unity through creative activities that promote reflection and understanding. For example, we encouraged our staff to engage in symbolic projects like weaving yarn through a heart-shaped metal wire wall fixture, honouring the Coast Salish weaving tradition. This allows for reflection and reverence within your workplace.

    image of weaving project for truth and reconciliation day 2023

    In the banner photo of this article you’ll see that in 2022, we invited our team to paint dots (using a bingo dotter) representing the thousands of children who never returned from residential schools, and the survivors. Completed over several days and was a powerful visual aid of loss. Despite this loss, we marvel at the courage and resilience First Nations, Inuit and Métis People today!

    Incorporating awareness and reconciliation efforts into the workplace is a vital step towards healing and understanding. As we remember the children who never returned from residential schools and honor the resilience of Indigenous Peoples, let us work together to create a workplace that is inclusive, compassionate, and dedicated to the belief that every child matters.

As we continue to educate ourselves, and encourage our staff to participate meaningfully in National Truth and Reconciliation Day, our offices will be closed on Monday, October 2nd, 2023 in order to observe the stat holiday. We hope this weekend is a meaningful one for the community, and honouring to our First Nations, Inuit, and Métis neighbours.