Each year, September 30 marks the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
The day honours the children who never returned home and Survivors of residential schools, as well as their families and communities. Public commemoration of the tragic and painful history and ongoing impacts of residential schools is a vital component of the reconciliation process.
The City of Kamloops acknowledges that we are located on Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc territory, situated within the unceded ancestral lands of the Secwépemc Nation. We honour and respect the people, the territory, and the land that houses our community.
We are using our platform to share resources that provide awareness and further the message of truth and reconciliation.
What is truth and reconciliation?
The process of acknowledging and addressing the historical injustices suffered by Indigenous peoples and the tragic legacy of the residential school system.
In response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's findings, September 30th has been designated as the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in Canada. This day serves as a national reminder for Canadians to look for opportunities to reflect on the history and impact of residential schools and colonization, seek education, and engage in acts of reconciliation.
Here are some activities residents and visitors can undertake along on our shared reconciliation journey.
Learn the history of residential schools
Starting in 1831 and enduring until the final school closed in 1996, First Nations, Inuit and Métis Nation children were taken from their families and communities to attend residential schools which were often located far from their homes. The goal of the Indian Residential School System was to assimilate “Indians” into colonial society and attempted to force children to abandon their Indigenous identity. Over the 165 years the schools were in operation, more than 150,000 children attended Indian Residential Schools, and many never returned.
Photo credit: Kaeli Chikowski
The Kamloops Museums & Archives (KMA) is offering free admission from Sept 26th-29th to encourage reflection and education with respect to Truth and Reconciliation and the Indigenous Peoples of Canada.
Make time to visit LEN, an exhibition on Leonard Marchand Sr., Canada's first person of First Nations status elected to Canadian parliament and Canada's first Indigenous federal cabinet minister. Additional educational resources are available throughout the gallery space from Kamloops Indian Residential School Survivors, as well as the permanent collection.
Please note the KMA will be closed on Saturday, September 30, 2023, in observation of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
Photo credit: Kelly Funk
Reconciliation is a process that involves both education and action. Before, on and after September 30 each year, commit to learning more about Canada’s history of the colonization of Indigenous people, and talk with your child and community about meaningful acts of reconciliation you can do together.
Alberta Health Services has provided some great suggestions for you and your family to take part in as part of your own reconciliation journey. Use these tips as a starting point and reflect on your intentions and consider how your actions will respectfully deepen relationships with Indigenous history, culture, and people.
In May 2021, the remains of 215 young Indigenous children were found in a mass grave at the site of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School. While the school may have closed down in 1978 (and the last school in Canada closed in 1996), we still need to ensure that every child is recognized and accounted for. Visit the Indigenous Corporate Training website to learn 10 ways you can support Indigenous communities everyday.
The University of Alberta offers a free online course, called Indigenous Canada. The 12-lesson Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) from the Faculty of Native Studies explores through oral teachings the different histories and contemporary perspectives of Indigenous peoples living in Canada. From an Indigenous perspective, the course explores the complex experiences Indigenous peoples face from both a historical and critical perspective, highlighting Indigenous-settler relations at all levels. Topics for the 12 lessons include the fur trade and other exchange relationships, land claims and environmental impacts, legal systems and rights, political conflicts and alliances, Indigenous political activism, and contemporary Indigenous life, art and its expressions.
The Secret Path is an animated film adaptation of Gord Downie's album and Jeff Lemire's graphic novel that tells the true story of Chanie Wenjack, a young Indigenous child, .on the night of his escape from the Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School, to his subsequent and heartbreaking death from hunger and exposure to the harsh weather more than 400 miles from his home.
It’s Jeff Lemire’s hope that one day the Secret Path will be taught in schools and that it will help to shed a light on this all too often ignored part of Canada’s past.
"I am honored to be able to tell my story so that others may benefit and understand, and maybe other survivors will feel comfortable enough to share their stories." - Phyllis (Jack) Webstad
Orange Shirt Day, founded by Phyllis, began in 2013 with the purpose of:
- Supporting Indian Residential School Reconciliation
- Creating awareness of the individual, family and community intergenerational impacts of Indian Residential Schools through Orange Shirt Society activities
- Creating awareness of the concept of “Every Child Matters”
Wearing orange on National Truth and Reconciliation Day is a symbol of solidarity with Indian Residential School survivors and their families.
In solidarity with Indigenous Canadians, learn more about Phyllis' impactful story to understand why the orange shirt is a symbol of the stripping away of culture, freedom and identity experienced by Indigenous children for more than 150 years..
The Kamloops Film Society & Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc are proud to present the 2nd Annual Stseptékwles re Sk’elép (Coyote Stories) Indigenous Film Festival at the Paramount Theatre on October 12-14, 2023. Featuring multiple feature films and highlighting various Indigenous artists through special engagement events, you won’t want to miss this weekend!