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2023 National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and the March for the Land

Each year on September 30, we mark Orange Shirt Day, an Indigenous-led grassroots initiative. This year we also mark Canada’s third National Day for Truth and Reconciliation to reflect, remember, and honour the survivors and victims of Canada’s residential school system.

The Government of Canada discusses advancing reconciliation as “working in partnership with Indigenous Peoples to address past harms, support strong and healthy communities, and advance self-determination and prosperity.” According to Yellowhead Institute, two Calls to Action (67 & 70) were completed in 2022. In total, only 13 of 94 Calls to Action have been completed.

On September 27, five First Nations from Northern Ontario came to Toronto to lead the March for the Land, calling on Premier Ford to end unwanted mining activity on Indigenous territories. The Land Defence Alliance specifically referenced Call to Action 92.

Call to Action 92

From the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada

“We call upon the corporate sector in Canada to adopt the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as a reconciliation framework and to apply its principles, norms, and standards to corporate policy and core operational activities involving Indigenous peoples and their lands and resources. This would include, but not be limited to, the following:

i. Commit to meaningful consultation, building respectful relationships, and obtaining the free, prior, and informed consent of Indigenous peoples before proceeding with economic development projects.

ii. Ensure that Aboriginal peoples have equitable access to jobs, training, and education opportunities in the corporate sector, and that Aboriginal communities gain long-term sustainable benefits from economic development projects.

iii. Provide education for management and staff on the history of Aboriginal peoples, including the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Treaties and Aboriginal rights, Indigenous law, and Aboriginal–Crown relations. This will require skills based training in intercultural competency, conflict resolution, human rights, and anti-racism.”

A group of people stands with their backs to the camera in front of Ontario's Legislative Assembly. They are participating in the March for the Land, a protest organized by five First Nations from Northern Ontario in opposition to mining on their traditional territories. According to Chief Rudy Turtle of Grassy Narrows, they have spent more than 50 years asking the government for assistance in cleaning mercury from the rivers, with little progress. The Land Defence Alliance has three main demands of the Government of Ontario:

  • Commit to ending unwanted mining on First Nations land
  • End the free entry mining regime
  • Respect the decisions of the alliance of First Nations to defend their land and protect their people and way of life

CSI staff and members joined the march. It was an honour to join these groups in their advocacy for the protection of their lands and waters.

As we reflect on both Orange Shirt Day and National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, we recommend learning more about these First Nations’ struggle to protect their lands and waters. More information about the march and the First Nations Land Defence Alliance can be found on their website here. For additional background knowledge, check out CBC’s reporting here.

For 24-hour crisis support for former Indian Residential School students and their families, the toll-free crisis line is 1-866-925-4419.

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