5 things you need to know about National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

You are reading the Original Version (CLB5+) Read Simple Version (CLB3-4)

Skip to:

September 30th is National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. Here’s what you need to know about Canada’s newest holiday:

  1. It is a federal statutory holiday

    Federal statutory holidays are public holidays recognized by the government or province. Depending on one’s eligibility and employer, workers may be entitled to a day-off with pay. This also means that schools, Crown corporations, and non-essential government agencies will be closed for the day (or the next weekday if September 30th falls on a weekend).

  2. What’s it for?

    The objective of the holiday is “to create a chance for Canadians to learn about and reflect on a dark chapter in their country’s history and to commemorate the survivors, their families and their communities, as called for by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and Indigenous leaders” (Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault). It is estimated that 150,000 First Nations, Metis, and Inuit children were forced to attend residential schools between the 1870s and 1997.

    As a newcomer to Canada, it’s a great opportunity to learn about Indigenous history to understand the current plight of Indigenous Peoples of this country. You can start with 16 resources to help settlers understand and advance Indigenous reconciliation by Lindsay Purchase (posted on Charity Village) or Winnipeg Public Library’s reading list (and other resources). Another great resource is Beyond 94 by CBC. It monitors the progress of the journey that governments, communities, and faith groups are taking towards reconciliation.

  3. It is part of the 94 Calls to Action

    The 94 Calls to Action is one of the main outcomes of the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). The TRC documented the experience of survivors and witnesses of residential schools all over Canada. The Calls to Action was made to address the ongoing impact of residential schools on survivors and their families. It also proposes a path for reconciliation for the government and Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities in the country.

    National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is a fulfillment of Call to Action 80.

  4. It is also Orange Shirt Day

    Many were already celebrating September 30th as “Orange Shirt Day” even before Bill C-5 was passed. This date was chosen because September 30th was the day when Indigenous children were taken away to residential school.

    Orange Shirt day is based on Phyllis Webstad’s experience on her first day at residential school. Upon arriving at St. Joseph’s Mission, all her clothes were taken away including a new orange shirt that was given to her by her grandmother. She was six years old at that time. This heartbreaking story highlights how Indigenous children were stripped away of their culture, rights, and self-esteem. This is why the event promotes the slogan “Every child matters.”


    Phyllis Webstad Orange Shirt Day Presentation

  6. Not all provinces will celebrate it as a statutory holiday

    Ontario, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Quebec will recognize it as a day of remembrance, not as a statutory holiday. This means that employers in these provinces are not obligated to provide the day off. However, public service employees in Ontario, Saskatchewan, and Alberta will be observing a day of remembrance similar to Remembrance Day and Easter Monday (optional general holiday). BC, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, the Northwest Territories, Yukon, and Nunavut have declared Sept. 30 a statutory holiday. Likewise, Manitoba has declared it a general holiday as of December 7, 2023.

    How will you celebrate Truth and Reconciliation Day?

Article updated April 4, 2024.
Sources: Federal Statutory holiday: National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, Government of Canada; National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, Government of Canada; The Story of Orange Shirt Day, Orange Shirt Day.org; Winnipeg EPC votes to recognize National Day of Truth and Reconciliation, Sam Thompson, Global News; and National day for Truth and Reconciliation in Canada 2021, Office Holidays. Accessed September 23, 2021.

Back to top

We'd love to hear from you!

Please login to tell us what you think.

Related Learning Activities

Writing Workshop: Lesson Five, Writing Practice

Article thumbnail fallback

Writing Workshop: Lesson Seven, Using Punctuation with Transitional Words and Phrases

Article thumbnail fallback

Writing Workshop: Lesson Six, Punctuation for Making Lists

Article thumbnail fallback

Writing Workshop: Lesson Four, Complex Sentences

Article thumbnail fallback

Back to top

CC BY-NC-SAText of this page is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA, unless otherwise marked. Please attribute to English Online Inc. and link back to this page where possible. For images and videos, check the source for licensing information.