Honouring Truth and Reconciliation
Content warning: this statement contains references to the residential school system.
Later this week, on September 30, Canada will mark National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and Orange Shirt Day. I am proud that ASEBP will be joining people and organizations across the country in recognizing this important day.
Canada’s history with First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Peoples is complex and, for many, deeply painful. This history includes more than 100,000 Indigenous children being removed from their homes and communities to be sent to residential schools, where they experienced loneliness, cultural assimilation, substandard education, and, oftentimes, physical and sexual abuse. Many Indigenous children never returned home from residential schools. Those that did—the survivors as well as their families—continue to experience enduring trauma as the harms of residential schools reverberate from generation to generation.
Despite all that they have experienced, Indigenous and Métis Peoples continue to persevere, illustrating their strength and resiliency each day. Their valuable contributions—in the past, present, and future—to the land, their communities, and society at large cannot be understated.
September 30 is a day to acknowledge this dark history, recognize resiliency, show commitment to Truth and Reconciliation, and honour the children who lost their lives as well as the survivors, their families, and communities. The ASEBP office will be closed this Friday to allow our staff to observe the day in a way that feels authentic to them. Whether your school or office is open on September 30 or not, I encourage you to join us in reflection over the coming days.
If your school or district will be sharing resources, holding activities, or honouring National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and Orange Shirt Day in another way, please feel free to tag ASEBP on social media or contact firstname.lastname@example.org with the details. We would love the opportunity to share your great work on our Facebook and Twitter accounts so others in the public education sector can be inspired by it!
I also want to take this opportunity to remind you of the supports ASEBP has available for those struggling with difficult memories or feelings brought on by the conversations taking place this week. Anyone can access the It Takes a Village website for mental health resources, while ASEBP covered members and their dependants can also access free and confidential help and counselling through the Employee and Family Assistance Program. Additionally, ASEBP members and their dependants each have a maximum of $1,200 per calendar year for psychology services. Residential school survivors and their families may also reach out to the Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line 24 hours a day at 1-800-721-0066.
To our covered members that are Indigenous, I want you to know—this week and always—that we are here for you. Not only do we have programs and services to help maintain or improve all facets of your well-being, but we are very committed to continuing our reconciliation journey so we can better support you in the future.