Today, September 30, marks the first-ever National Day for Truth and Reconciliation here in Canada. It’s a day of remembrance, reflection, and the perfect time for all of us to become better allies to the Indigenous communities of Canada. How? Well, there are plenty of ways to do just that, but we’ve put together a little list to help you on your way. Here are 9 great ways to support Indigenous communities in Canada right now and in the future.
They always say actions speak louder than words, and with causes such as this, that couldn’t ring any more true. Getting involved through volunteering is a great way to not only educate yourself while supporting Indigenous communities, but it’s also a gateway into changing your perspective and opens the door for future community involvement. If volunteering sounds like it’d be up your alley, check out this resource from Reconciliation Canada that details the many ways you can help right now.
If you haven’t taken the time to find some local Indigenous-owned businesses in your community, this is a great time to start. Luckily, this online database provides a categorized list of Indigenous-owned businesses, divided by industry and location, so the hard work is already done. If you happen to be a business owner yourself and are looking to collaborate with Indigenous-owned businesses, or just want a more comprehensive breakdown of their offerings, the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business is also a great resource.
If you’re able to give a donation, the Indian Residential School Survival Society is a perfect place to do so. The British Columbia-based non-profit’s Mission Statement is “to provide physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual growth, development, and healing through culturally-based values and guiding principles for Survivors, Families, and Communities.”
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Speaking of donations, another organization that has been doing incredible work for a long, long time is the Legacy of Hope Foundation. This Indigenous-led charitable organization has been working to promote healing and Reconciliation in Canada for more than two decades. They are a great resource for curriculum materials for schools, exhibitions, workshops, training, research, and more.
Social media activism is nothing new, but it still has a widespread impact and can be a great resource for anyone willing to educate themselves. Thankfully, there are already lists and recommendations on fantastic ones to follow, and some of our personal favourites include @lilnativeboy and @nadiageorgeofficial on Instagram, as well as @shinanova, @notoriouscree, and @indigenous_baddie on TikTok.
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Orange Shirt Day (September 30) is when all Canadians are encouraged to wear orange shirts to honour survivors and victims of residential schools. The story of the orange shirt comes from Phyllis Webstad, who at six years old, had her brand new orange shirt taken from her on her first day at residential school. The date was selected as it was near the time Indigenous children would be ripped from their families and taken to Residential Schools. And yes, Orange Shirt Day and National Day for Truth and Reconciliation are purposely on the same day.
The good news is you can support Orange Shirt Day on September 30, but really any time of year! Continuing the conversation around Residential Schools and the #everychildmatters movement is paramount to healing Canada’s wounds.
Educating yourself does not mean asking for Indigenous people to explain the history nor the current state of affairs, so instead head over to your local bookstore OR to the Chapters-Indigo section dedicated to Indigenous authors. The online section provides recommended reading, lists of who and what to read, as well as further educational resources for anyone to check out.
For direct source information on the residential school system in Canada, you can read the disturbing but informative Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada Report. The report details the horrific truth of the ways that Indigenous populations have been treated in the country. It also provides 94 calls to action that folks can engage in at a federal, provincial, territorial, and individual level.
This is something you can do at any time, but it’s an important part of educating ourselves on the true history of Canada’s relationship with Indigenous communities. Native-Land.ca is part of the non-profit organization Native Land Digital, dedicated to mapping Indigenous lands across the globe. You can log onto the platform and explore the interactive map to find out whose land you are currently living on since Canada and its current cities are a collection of unceded Indigenous territories.