National Truth and Reconciliation Day
September 30, 2022 marks the second anniversary of Canada’s “National Truth and Reconciliation Day.”
This day honours the lost children and Survivors of residential schools, their families and their communities. The intention of this day is for Canada as a nation to never forget those Indigenous peoples that have suffered.
September 30 is also recognized as “Orange Shirt Day.” This is an Indigenous-led grassroots commemorative day intended to raise awareness of the individual, family and community inter-generational impacts of residential schools, and to promote the concept of “Every Child Matters”. The orange shirt is meant to symbolize the stripping away of culture, freedom and self-esteem experienced by Indigenous children over generations.
September 30 has now embodied the plight and struggles that Indigenous peoples have endured, but by focusing on what has happened, we can move to ensure that the wrongs of the past are never repeated. As 2022 only marks the second anniversary of this day, I believe that it is still “developing” what its identity and mark will be on Canadians. This day may go through some iterations over the coming years but ultimately, I hope that National Truth and Reconciliation Day will be approached with reverence and respect for all those who perished.
I hope that the focus that is brought to light through National Truth and Reconciliation Day and Orange Shirt Day will be the bridge that allows more of Canada to get to know and understand the indigenous cultures and customs that much more. I believe that this understanding is what the true potential that this day will bring to all of Canada.
History has proven that regardless of where in the world you are from, our ancestors did not have all of the answers and for most of civilization, they fought and were not accepting of each other. Just open a history book from any country and you will read of the atrocities that humans perpetrated against who they viewed as other “different” humans. They fought what they didn’t understand or perceived as like them and due to this misguided observation, they lashed out, to the detriment of the “different” group. This is by no means an endorsement of the actions of all of our ancestors over the entire globe, but as a means to set the stage for how we as a race are doing things differently today.
The majority of the human race has now evolved to a point where our first instinct and inclination is no longer to fear what you don’t know or recognize, but instead to learn and understand it better. Technology has assisted in this pursuit by allowing us to learn different languages, have an insight into different cultures and practices, and overall give everyone the knowledge of those individuals that we may initially lack in order to bridge gaps and accept one another.
I also believe that construction has been an instrumental part of this transfer of knowledge from the indigenous people of Canada to the rest of the population. Construction has long fostered relationships with indigenous people when working in and around indigenous lands.
At times, these relationships have only been on paper to satisfy contractual requirements, but like the histories of the world, that time was in the past, and the future is looking for more meaningful connections.
Construction is the one sector that welcomes all, regardless of background or upbringing, construction accepts people for people and views differences as assets instead of encumbrances. Construction is proud to employ many indigenous peoples and firmly supports more indigenous entrants into our sector.
Additionally, due to shortages in our labour force and with the universal move to more equity, diversity and inclusion with our employees, I see more indigenous peoples joining the ranks of construction and therein increasing the exposure and understanding of the whole.
Like the construction industry, Canada as a whole, is now ready for more meaningful dialogue and interaction with our indigenous peoples. Some sectors and people will still only do land acknowledgements, due to a false sense of perception, but there is a growing wave that are doing so out of genuine respect. Respect for a culture and for customs that may have been “different” to all of us at the start, but then Canada was built on immigration and therefore on differences. Canada has a foundation on incorporating unique and diverse cultures and in working together and learning from one another.
I want to leave you with the hope that National Truth and Reconciliation Day allows each of us to know more about our combined history and leads Canada to a deeper understanding of what we are as a people.
Should anyone want to learn more about National Truth and Reconciliation Day, or if you require any assistance from the OGCA, please contact me directly at email@example.com or via phone at 905.671.3969.