The discovery of unmarked graves on the grounds of residential schools shocked our nation. Canadians across the country have been reminded that, to realize the Canada that we aspire to create, we must have honest conversations about our history to inform public policy in the present – so that everyone who lives in this land enjoys peace, justice, and security.
Despite our challenges, Canada is an extraordinary country worthy of celebration and remains one of the best places in the world to live a fulfilling Jewish life. Jews have been helping to build Canada and participating in our national conversation for 250 years, contributing to advancing issues of benefit far beyond our community. They adhere to the Jewish tradition to strive to perfect the world and help those in need.
On June 3, 2021, Bill C-5 (An Act to amend the Bills of Exchange Act, the Interpretation Act and the Canada Labour Code (National Day for Truth and Reconciliation)) received royal assent. The bill creates a national holiday to honour First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Survivors, families, and communities and ensure Canadians remember the intergenerational trauma of Canada’s residential school system.
The establishment of a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation as a statutory holiday responds to the 80th call to action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which urged the federal government to work with Indigenous people to establish such a holiday.
The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation will be observed every September 30.
We believe that, as Canadian Jews, we have an important role to play.
We invite you to publicize National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in your synagogue bulletins. You may wish to light a Yahrzeit candle for the children who never returned home, teach classes from a Jewish tradition and textual perspective, or invite a member of an Indigenous nation to address your congregation. We invite you to consider ways to demonstrate your solidarity in the spirit of truth and reconciliation.
As a community, we know how to remember. The imperative to Zachor is imprinted in our DNA.
Our efforts send a strong message to our Indigenous brothers and sisters that they have the support of Canada’s Jewish community.
September 26 to 30 – National Truth and Reconciliation Week events for students, teachers, and the public
September 30, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. – Native Child and Family Services of Toronto (NCFST) will provide a report to community addressing the priorities for redesigning child welfare to help reduce the number of Indigenous children in care.
September 30, 10 a.m. to 12 pm – Remember Me: A National Day of Remembrance – at Parliament Hill, a national gathering to honour Indigenous children and families impacted by residential schools. Visit the Remember Me website for more information.
September 29 & September 30 – Màmawi Together Survivors’ Gathering to hear the testimonies of survivors from Ottawa, Quebec, and Northern Canada, take part in cultural and traditional celebrations, and honour those impacted by the residential school system. Visit the Màmawi Together website for more information and to register to participate in the scheduled activities.
September 30 to October 12 (various locations) – The TRUTH, part of Toronto History Museums’ Awakenings program, a mobile public art project visiting various locations across Toronto. All are welcome to the opening ceremony on Friday, September 30 at 7 p.m. (Garrison Common, Fort York National Historic Site, 100 Garrison Rd.).
September 30, 1 p.m. – The Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund present a panel discussion, “Indigenous Perspectives on the Pope’s Apology ”
(Registration required) and A Day to Listen, broadcast on numerous radio stations across the country, to highlight Indigenous voices and stories
September 30, 12 p.m. – “Wisdom Weavers: Storytelling & Traditional Teachings,” Anishnawbe Health Toronto via Facebook
September 30 – Join the Montreal 2nd annual march to commemorate the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation
September 30, 1 – 4 p.m. Pacific Time Trout Lake Community Centre and Nisga’a Ts’amiks Vancouver Society gathering to commemorate Orange Shirt Day
- December 2022 – Join Jewish Family and Child, Native Child and Family Service, and David Koffman for a program on the history and encounters of Indigenous peoples and Jewish people in Canada. Join us for a discussion on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Actions around child welfare, and calls to action to the federal, provincial, territorial, and Aboriginal governments to commit to reducing the number of Aboriginal children in care.
Materials to access:
The Government of Canada’s Reconciliation: A Starting Point mobile app
The Canadian Encyclopedia’s residential school timeline
Indigenous Affairs Canada, Southwest Collegiate and Learning Bird’s video on the history of residential schools and the TRC’s 94 Calls to Action
A Nigigoonsiminikaaning Elder speaks about reconciliation and moving forward
25 books that highlight the beauty of Indigenous literature
A story from Elder Gilbert Smith about why land is sacred
- Visit the Craigleith Heritage Depot museum collection online
Materials to disseminate:
Use the Kitchen Table Dialogue Guide with our community to host a local event
- A guide for discussing reconciliation with children: Spirit Bear’s Guide to the TRC Calls to Action
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