Truth and Reconciliation Day: Here's how to engage, educate and reflect between now and Sept. 30

·4 min read

The final day of September this year will mark the second annual National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. The new statutory holiday 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 covers everything occurring 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.

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.

This is a continuously updating article. Know of other ways to engage with this year's T&R Day? Contact the North Shore News' Indigenous and civic affairs reporter at:

This reporting beat is made possible by the Local Journalism Initiative.

Mina Kerr-Lazenby, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, North Shore News