September 30, 2021 marks the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. This day has also been observed for a number of years as Orange Shirt Day. Both occasions recognize the historical and ongoing impacts of the residential “school” system: the children whose lives it took, those who survived, and the generations of families and communities who live with this legacy of colonial violence and its contemporary incarnations

As educators, we know that schools should not have graves (to paraphrase Tuscarora writer Alicia Elliott). We know as well that the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action numbers 62-65 refer specifically to education. While they may emphasize bigger-picture issues like funding, we know we have a role to play in our classrooms and beyond. Curriculum choices, readings, conversations, creating spaces for engaging deeply with challenging histories alongside stories of survival, teachings, and the persistence of lifeways and Nations: there are so many possibilities for us to find and create.

As a Local, we have collectively marked this day with a donation to the Save the Evidence Campaign. This campaign supports the Woodland Cultural Centre at Six Nations and its larger project to preserve the historic site of the Mohawk Institute and establish an educational centre within its space. For many of us in the GTHA of the Dish With One Spoon wampum agreement (broadly, traditional and treaty territories of Anishinaabe and Haudenosaunee peoples), the Mohawk Institute is the closest of these schools. If you are outside this region or wish to learn more about this system, the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation provides an interactive map and other online resources. The Woodland Cultural Centre has also moved a number of resources online during the pandemic, including virtual tours.

We hope our members will find ways to reflect, learn, engage, and act in the spirit of truth and reconciliation on this day and beyond; many of us may already be doing so at events this week through the College and in our communities. The links throughout this message are meant to provide some small entry points for this engagement, and Dean Seright and Associate Dean Hartwick at Indigenous Education and Engagement have compiled a list of readings shared through the communique last week (there are many others that could lengthen this excellent and varied list, but we will limit ourselves to adding Chelsea Vowel’s Indigenous Writes, Dr. Gregory Younging’s Elements of Indigenous Style, and Canada in the World by L562’s own Tyler Shipley). Whether you attend an event, watch a video, read a book, volunteer your time, or donate to a community organization, September 30 represents one day to make part of a deeper commitment.

Finally, it’s also essential to acknowledge our diverse membership will have different relationships to this day. Among us are settlers, First Nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples, descendants of indigenous peoples from other lands brought here by force, and relative newcomers. We hope L562’s Indigenous members will find forms of support as needed, and that those of us not indigenous to these lands will find ways to make the statement Every Child Matters a reality as part of a larger process of reckoning with the past and present while collectively building a different future.