Queen's to mark National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

Queen's to mark National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

Day of reflection to include a sacred fire gathering, campus-wide moment of silence, and educational opportunities.

By Dave Rideout

September 23, 2021


National Day for Truth and Reconciliation graphic
Canada's first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation takes place on September 30.

On September 30, Canada will mark its first official National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. In support of this important day of reflection, Queen’s will offer commemorative events, learning opportunities, and educational resources across campus to emphasize the university’s own commitment to Indigenization and reconciliation. 

Central to the day’s events will be a sacred fire gathering on Agnes Benidickson Field. This intimate, on-campus event will reflect on the legacy of Indigenous residential schools in Canada and seek to re-affirm the university’s commitment to advancing reconciliation. Scheduled to run from 1:45–3:00 pm, the small gathering will include public remarks by Queen’s Elders-in-Residence and other senior university leaders. Due to COVID-19 safety rules, in-person attendance will be limited; however it will be livestreamed online to ensure everyone can take part. 

The creation of a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation fulfills an important call to action made by Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 2015,” says Patrick Deane, Principal and Vice-Chancellor. “It underlines the importance for all people in Canada to grow their understanding of Indigenous experiences and history, and to work continually to advance reconciliation in this country. Queen’s University is deeply committed to this effort and to creating a more positive, welcoming, and inclusive society.” 

A campus-wide moment of silence will be observed during the sacred fire gathering beginning at 2:15 pm—a time chosen to acknowledge and honour the remains of 215 children discovered earlier this year at a former residential school site in Kamloops, British Columbia. The discovery accelerated archeological investigations at numerous residential school sites across the country, leading to the recovery of hundreds more unmarked and mass graves. 

Queen’s Chancellor, the Honourable Murray Sinclair, is preparing a video message for the campus community and the public at large in honour of the day. It will be shared widely on university social media and the Queen’s Gazette. 

Wear orange and get involved on September 30 

The NDTR falls on the last day of September each year—a day previously known as Orange Shirt Day, when people would wear the colour orange in solidarity with survivors of residential schools. Queen’s is urging all members of the campus community to wear orange that day and has provided 4,000 orange shirts and 10,000 commemorative decals to employees and students to encourage wide participation. Those who requested a shirt or decal are being asked to sign a commitment to ongoing learning and engagement in truth and reconciliation work, and a portion of the proceeds from the purchase of the shirts and decals will go toward supporting the Save the Evidence campaign and the Orange Shirt Society. 

Wearing orange is intended to honour those directly impacted by Canada’s residential school system and is a meaningful action towards solidarity that opens the door to dialogue and change,” says Kanonhsyonne (Janice Hill), Associate Vice-Principal (Indigenous Initiatives and Reconciliation). “I encourage everyone to join us in wearing an Orange shirt, or displaying orange in any way you can, on September 30. Let us all commit to working both individually and together to cultivate a deeper understanding, respect, and appreciation of one another, and work toward a more equitable future.” 

In addition to the sacred fire gathering, the Office of Indigenous Initiatives (OII) has created a webpage of faculty- and student-led events, learning opportunities, and educational resources for members of the Queen’s community to utilize. All Queen’s community members are urged to download themed Zoom/Teams backgrounds that can be used to show your support in meetings or classes leading up to and on September 30. The Centre for Teaching and Learning also has information for faculty members to assist in facilitating classroom conversations about the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

Visit the OII’s National Day for Truth and Reconciliation webpage to explore how you can get involved.