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Truth and Reconciliation Day: Here's how to engage, educate and reflect

From museum exhibits to marches, online webinars to workshops, there are a multitude of ways to participate in the second iteration of Canada's National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

The final day of September marks the second annual National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. The national day memorializes the children lost to the residential school system, and honours the survivors, their families and their communities. 

Whether looking to get educated, support local Indigenous artists, or attend events, this round-up includes what's happening for Truth and Reconciliation Day on the North Shore and beyond. 

On T&R with James Harry with Griffin Arts Projects

Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) and Namgis First Nation artist James Harry is hosting a Zoom webinar to discuss Xwemelch’stn (2019), a permanent installation inspired by the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh community's interconnection with the land, animals and water that now sits in West Vancouver's Park Royal. The talk is a collaboration between Harry, non-profit gallery Griffin Art Projects and SOS Children's Village BC, and will be followed by a question and answer session led by Indigenous curatorial assistant Emmett Hanly.

Friday, Sept. 30, 1 p.m.-2:30 p.m. Registration to the webinar can be found on the Griffin Art Projects website

Purchase an orange shirt 

Previously known as Orange Shirt Day before being acknowledged as National Day for Truth and Reconciliation last year, the concept since 2013 had been to educate on the history of the residential schooling system by drawing attention to the story of Phyllis Jack Webstad. Webstad was a Stswecem'c Xgat'tem First Nation student in 1973, who had her brand new orange shirt taken from her on her first day at a residential school when she was six years old. Now supporters country-wide don orange in support of her and the countless others affected. Shirts can be bought from independent stores like Kit and Kaboodle and Dreamcatcher Promotions, or the Orange Shirt Day website and the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation website

Educational offerings at West Vancouver library

In the lead up to Sept. 30, the West Vancouver Memorial Library will be showcasing educational films, hosting talks and providing book bundles, each including a book on Truth, Reconciliation, and Indigenous Fiction, to borrow. On the day itself, the library will offer education for youngsters via Storytelling, Songs and Crafts, an event in collaboration with Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) author Lisa Lewis. A deep dive into the cultural practice of cedar harvesting will also be hosted online, from T’sou-ke Elder Jeff Welch and WVML’s former Climate Writer in Residence, Dene author Katłįà Lafferty.

Friday, Sept. 30. Times and more information can be found on the WVML website

Online: Truth and Reconciliation Week 

The NCTR is hosting a five day online event for schools and the general public, comprising videos, talks, Q&A sessions, performances and workshops based around this year's theme of Remembering the Children. With this year's offerings including an expanded program with age-appropriate material for children in grades 1 through 12, there are plenty of opportunities for the whole family to learn and comemmorate together. 

Sept. 26-30, all material found virtually at the NCTR website

New exhibits and unveiling at Gordon Smith Gallery 

On Saturday, Sept. 24, ​the Gordon Smith Gallery will launch the long-awaited limited edition print by Anishinaabe artist Charlene Vickers, followed by a talk from the artist at 12 p.m, and will open its new exhibition, Paths. Paths explores real and imagined journeys via works from various Indigenous artists from the Artists for Kids permanent collection, including Charlene Vickers and weaver Angela George

Sept. 24, Gordon Smith Gallery. 

Long-term art exhibit at MONOVA 

Throughout September the Museum of North Vancouver is inviting kids and adults alike to get creative for the cause, by jotting down their thoughts and reflections about Truth and Reconciliation on paper orange shirts. The large shirts will be then be put on display within the museum, where guests will be able to view them until the end of the month. On the Friday, from 12 p.m.- 5 p.m, Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) speaker Siamtnaat & Milnitdi (Sheryl Rivers) will also be sharing stories, songs and the history of her people.

Throughout September at MONOVA. More information on MONOVA's approach to T&R Day can be found on its website 


There is an ever-growing number of charities that focus primarily on supporting the survivors of residential schools. The most notable include Orange Shirt Society, the Legacy of Hope Foundation and the Indian Residential Schools Survivors Society

Inter-generational March 

The UBC Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre will be holding an educational march on its campus on the 30th, open to staff, students, faculty and members of the community. Kicking off at 11 a.m. and carrying through to 2:30 p.m., the event will see the march set against a backdrop of entertainment (performances by Tsatsu Stalqya / Coastal Wolf Pack), food trucks, talks and educational workshops. It will begin on university grounds with an opening by Elder John Jones and Elder Yvonne Rigsby Jones, before concluding at the Engineering Cairn. 

Sept. 30, Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre Canada. For more information visit UBC's website

Capilano University offerings 

Capilano University has put together a sprawling list of virtual and in-person events across the whole week for students and staff, including talks, music acts, nature walks, craft sessions and films. Alongside the choc-full events schedule and the recommended reading lists, the University will also be offering Indigenous-specific counselling support via Riel Dupuis-Rossi, the school's Indigenous Counsellor. 

Sept. 26-30, Capilano University. For the all en-compassing list of events, visit the Capilano University website

Tsleil-Waututh Nation's Pilgrimage

The Tsleil-Waututh community have planned a pilgrimage to commemorate the day, walking the 8.5 kilometres from the former site of St. Paul's Residential school to the Tsleil-Waututh Nation reserve in North Vancouver, retracing the path that their ancestors had once taken. While the walk itself is for TWN staff, community members and invited guests, the wider public are invited to show their support by lining up on the sidewalks to create a 'wall of protection' between both locations.

Sept. 30, 10 a.m.-1 p.m, St.Thomas Aquinas Regional Secondary School (formerly St. Paul's). The full route can be found on the TW Nation site

Kairos Blanket Exercise 

From 1 p.m to 4 p.m. on the Friday itself, the Lynn Valley United Church will be hosting the Kairos Blanket Exercise, is a historical experience from the perspective of Indigenous People.  Developed in collaboration with Indigenous Elders, Knowledge Keepers and educators, the interative learning experience delves into the history of the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada. 

Sept. 30, 1 p.m.-4 p.m, Lynn Valley Church. To register to the event, visit the Lynn Valley Church website

Mina Kerr-Lazenby is the North Shore News' Indigenous and civic affairs reporter. This reporting beat is made possible by the Local Journalism Initiative.

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Correction: An earlier version of this story stated National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is a statutory holiday. To clarify, Sept. 30 is a federal statutory day. It is not a provincial statutory holiday in British Columbia. The province is still consulting with the public on whether to recognize it as a statutory holiday in B.C.