On July 30, the Government of Canada announced that it would fulfill the 80th call to action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, making September 30 the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. This long-overdue day of commemoration gives us time to honour residential school survivors, their families and communities.
I ask that you join us in answering the call from Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc to Drum for the Children. At 2:15 pm on September 30, drum for the healing of residential school survivors and drum for the children who never made it home. Please be sure to check with the local First Nations in your area about how you can support them.
I also urge anyone planning to visit the Royal BC Museum on September 30 to visit Our Living Languages: First Peoples Voices in BC, which was created by the First Peoples Cultural Council in partnership with the Royal BC Museum. Residential schools were the single-greatest threat to Indigenous languages in BC: the history of residential schools is also the history of disrupted languages. Our Living Languages educates visitors about the people—and entire communities—working tirelessly to document and revitalize Indigenous languages, and working to mitigate the terrible impacts of the residential school system on First Nations culture and identity.
It’s crucial that we all understand the harm from residential schools extends into the present. The Indian Residential School Survivors Society (IRSSS) provides essential services to residential school survivors, their families and others dealing with intergenerational trauma. Please support them in this work however you can.
Additional resources to learn about residential schools are available on the Royal BC Museum’s Learning Portal, which is free to use and can be accessed from anywhere. This is an excellent tool for finding age-appropriate learning materials for children and students. The museum’s learning team has also curated a list of online resources from other organizations below.
At the museum, we recognize that there is still much work to do on the path to reconciliation, but we remain committed to making important changes to get there. Most importantly, we are reviewing the museum’s operations to bring them into alignment with the principles of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act. You can learn more about the museum’s work to improve equity, diversity, inclusion and accessibility on our website.
As we continue our ongoing work to confront the painful reality of colonization on Indigenous peoples, we hope you will join us in marking September 30 in a way that is meaningful to you, and in a way that directly supports residential school survivors, their families and communities.
I encourage you to learn more about Orange Shirt Day, and wear orange to show your support.
Daniel F. Muzyka
Acting CEO, Royal BC Museum