On September 30, Canadians across the country will come together to observe the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation to show respect and support for the country’s First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities. The federal holiday was introduced to honour the survivors of residential schools—the last of which closed less than 25 years ago—and those who never came home. The day is also in honour of their families and communities, many of whom still struggle with the intergenerational effects of the harm caused by the system.
As Canadians and settlers on this land, each of us has a responsibility to support First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities year-round, but especially on this annual holiday.
So, if you’re wondering, how can I help First Nations in Canada and be a true ally to Indigenous Peoples? You’ve come to the right place.
Here are 5 ways to show your support for First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities in Canada this National Day for Truth and Reconciliation:
1. Read up on Indigenous communities
One of the best ways to support Indigenous communities in Canada is to educate yourself about the current issues. You can read any of the reports created by The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC), all of which document the experiences of those impacted by residential schools. Indigenous Peoples also face many day-to-day challenges at higher rates than Canadians because of the oppression they’ve endured, including but not limited to inadequate housing, unsafe drinking water, higher rates of unemployment, lower levels of education, higher rates of incarceration, and higher rates of suicide. Educating yourself about these serious issues is the first step to being part of the solution.
To be a true Indigenous ally, it’s equally important to learn about the rich and diverse cultures of the First Nations, Métis and Inuit people. These communities have unique cultures, traditions, and histories, and we as Canadians can best offer our support when coming from a place of understanding and appreciation.
2. Spark up a conversation
Once you have some knowledge about the experiences of Indigenous Peoples, it’s important to share that knowledge. Spark up a discussion with friends and family to help them understand the significance of this day, and share your newfound knowledge with them. Tell them how recently the last residential school closed, and explain how the issues Indigenous communities face today are inextricably linked to the harms caused by the Canadian government. The more we talk about residential schools and Indigenous experiences with one another, the more light we shed on how much work remains to achieve true reconciliation, and the closer we get to it.
3. Donate your time or money
There are a number of important organizations working to help Indigenous communities throughout the country, including Reconciliation Canada, Native Women’s Association of Canada and True North Aid. If you’re wondering how to help Canada’s First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities, donating to one of these vital charities is a great place to start. And if you’re looking to get involved beyond your wallet, you can also volunteer your time; these organizations and many more are always looking for generous individuals who are willing to give up their weekend for a good cause.
4. Look at our past. Then look forward.
While taking action is of the utmost importance when working to support First Nations, Métis and Inuit Peoples in Canada, it’s also necessary for Canadians to sit and reflect on the role we’ve all played in the oppression of these communities. The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is a perfect opportunity for us to think about all that Indigenous communities have endured and what needs to change. Only through recognizing our own participation can we begin to heal the relationships between Canadian settlers and Indigenous communities—bringing us closer to a more just and equitable world for all.
5. Wear orange to show your support for First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities
The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation also coincides with Orange Shirt Day, an Indigenous-led grassroots commemorative day intended to raise awareness of the impacts of residential schools. Individuals are encouraged to wear an orange shirt on this day to symbolize the loss of culture, freedom and self-esteem experienced by Indigenous children over generations, and to promote the concept of “Every Child Matters.” Wearing orange is an easy yet meaningful way to signal your support for First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities in Canada.
If you’re going to buy an orange shirt for this occasion, try to find one where the funds raised go to Indigenous communities.
Here at CST Spark, we believe that every child—and every human—deserves to be treated with respect and dignity. Indigenous Peoples have faced oppression in this country for far too long, so we hope you’ll join us in showing your support for First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities this National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and beyond.
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