Recognizing Truth and Reconciliation Week
A message from Katherine Hay, President & CEO of Kids Help Phone
This week, we recognize Truth and Reconciliation Week, five days dedicated to engaging everyone in Canada in important conversations about First Nations, Métis and Inuit land claims and the traumatic legacies of residential schools on generations of Indigenous peoples across Canada.
Truth and Reconciliation Week was launched by the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation and will culminate in the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on September 30.
In recognition of this week of utmost significance, I would like to share some truths, reflections and actions with you. There is a need to educate ourselves and one another, and to take action for a future of justice and healing for all Indigenous peoples.
With the discoveries of more graves on the sites of former residential schools across Canada, it is becoming harder to ignore that there is work to be done. Between 1870 and 1996 over 150,000 First Nations, Métis and Inuit children were torn from their families and communities and forced to attend residential schools – a boarding school system established by the Canadian government and administered by churches.
Designed to assimilate children into “mainstream” Euro-Canadian society, the schools stripped children of their Indigenous cultures, customs, languages and identities – a process now considered to be cultural genocide. Former students have spoken extensively of the physical, sexual, emotional and psychological abuse children suffered in the schools. The graves recently discovered at four different residential schools speak starkly to the horrors and human rights violations that occurred at these sites. Today, the intergenerational trauma of residential schools persists for countless Indigenous people in Canada, who also continue to grapple daily with the impacts of systemic anti-Indigenous racism.
We each have a responsibility to learn, to engage, to act and to create change as we work together toward a future of justice, equality and understanding.
Kids Help Phone is deeply committed to our own journey of truth and reconciliation, and to supporting and advocating for the mental health needs of every young person across Canada. We are observing Truth and Reconciliation Week through a range of initiatives, engagements and conversations as we reflect on the past, present and future experiences, challenges and opportunities of Indigenous peoples in this country. We are also continuing our reconciliation journey through Finding Hope: An Indigenous Youth Action Plan, and are grateful for our supporters of this initiative.
I would like to encourage you to consider how you can be an advocate – or deepen your advocacy – for truth and reconciliation in your own way, and within your own community. From quiet reflection, to volunteering with an Indigenous organization, to simply having a conversation about truth and reconciliation with a loved one – every action makes a difference and leads us to a better future.
We are on an ongoing journey for truth and reconciliation in support of First Nations, Métis and Inuit community members.