National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is coming up at the end of the week, and there are many events taking place in and around Vancouver to honour those impacted by the Residential School System and promote Indigenous sovereignty.

This year marks the third annual National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, which coincides with Orange Shirt Day (“Every Child Matters”). The day is all about listening to Indigenous voices, asking questions, and taking responsibility for our continued learning about the history of Canada.

As this day can be very difficult for survivors, their families, and their communities – sensitivity and allyship are crucial. So with that in mind, here are 9 things you can do on Saturday, September 30th and beyond to learn more about the history of Residential Schools and engage with Indigenous communities throughout the Lower Mainland.

Qwalena: The Wild Woman Who Steals Children 

From 7:30 to 9:30 pm on September 30th, Indigenous storyteller Dallas Yellowfly is bringing to life a multimedia performance promoting anti-racism and raising awareness around the detrimental impacts of the Indian Act and the Residential School System at the Tightrope Impro Theatre.

Where: 2343 Main Street

Intergenerational March on Orange Shirt Day

The UBC Applied Science and Land and Food Systems programs are hosting an intergenerational march on Friday, September 30th. The march aims to be educational and supportive to the Indigenous community and First Nations on campus, and give younger participants the chance to connect with the original inhabitants of the land. Note that bannock & tea will be available at the Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre. No fees or registration are required to participate.

Where: 1985 Learners’ Walk, UBC

BC Culture Days

BC Culture Days is hosting multiple events honouring Orange Shirt Day and emerging Indigenous artists, and one of them is taking place in North Vancouver. Here, the inaugural recipient of the Emerging Indigenous Artist Studio Award, Miriam Berndt and collaborator, Musqueam Artist, Grace Ulu, will present a prerecorded talk on land-based practices. The pair will also share personal reconciling stories and family histories.

In Sechelt, the Sunshine Coast Arts Council (5714 Medusa Street, Sechelt) will screen Anne Wheeler’s 1976 film Augusta, a short documentary diving into the life of a Mètis woman.

And if you’re near or in Vernon, Quesnel, or Salmon Arm, you can check out these events commemorating Orange Shirt Day and National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

Where: Multiple locations across BC

National Truth & Reconciliation Day – White Rock

The City of White Rock and the Semiahmoo First Nation are hosting a third annual Walk for Truth & Reconciliation, beginning near Grand Chief Bernard Robert Charles Plaza and ending at Spirit Park where there will be additional programming and activities.

Where: 15393 Marine Drive, White Rock

Skookum Surrey National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

Now we come to Skookum Surrey’s Orange Shirt Day, which falls on September 29th this year. Visitors can expect an afternoon of drumming, sharing, and enjoying tea & bannock at Holland Park from 3 to 5 pm.

When: Friday, September 29th
Where: 13428 Old Yale Road, Surrey

Indigenous Stories of Resilience, Resistance, and Resurgence

Also taking place on September 29th this year is Len Pierre Consulting’s inaugural event honouring those affected by state-sanctioned violence committed against Indigenous communities. At the Cordova Ballroom of the Pinnacle Hotel Harbourfront, guests will be able to engage with a speaker series profiling local Indigenous artists, activists, and leaders.

When: Friday, September 29th
Where: 1133 West Hastings Street

Try authentic bannock

There are numerous Indigenous-owned restaurants and culinary experiences around Vancouver, and we think the stomach is an excellent vehicle for learning, as well as enjoying new flavours. Whether you load up on bannock tacos from Mr. Bannock’s food truck, or partake in bannock and tea at the Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre at UBC – there are plenty of spots to choose from.

Where: See our picks above

Orange Shirt Day at Frog Hollow Neighbourhood House

From 3 to 6 p.m. on September 25th, Frog Hollow Neighbourhood House is hosting a day of Indigenous speakers, drummers, and storytellers sharing their stories through speech and art. As well, visitors can engage with healing medicines, smudging practices, and contributing to a community banner, which will be carried on September 30th on a march for Truth and Reconciliation.

When: Monday, September 25th and September 30th
Where: 2131 Renfrew Street

All My Relations: National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

Place des Arts is hosting another presentation by Christine Mackenzie this National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, following last year’s afternoon of art. This year, participants will learn about the importance of cedar bough through drawing and painting activities.

Where: 1120 Brunette Avenue, Coquitlam

So there you have it, Vancouver. We hope this list inspires you to engage with the many First Nations communities in Vancouver. To learn more about Indigenous perspectives in Canada and what First Nations define as true reconciliation, you can read the official Calls to Action by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.

As well, you can support the following Indigenous-led organizations: