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National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

Today, September 30th, 2022, Winpak recognizes the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.  In Canada, this day is a federal statutory holiday which was officially recognized in 2021. For those unfamiliar with the significance of this holiday, here’s a brief overview.

In 2008, the Canadian government established a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).  The goal of the TRC is to provide a historical analysis of residential schools, help people to heal from the negative impact of residential schools, and encourage reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians.

The TRC presented its final report and Calls to Action in 2015 and included a call for the federal government, in collaboration with Indigenous peoples, to establish a statutory holiday - a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation to honor residential school survivors, their families, and communities, and ensure that public commemoration of the history and legacy of residential schools remains an essential component of the reconciliation process.

Residential Schools
Residential schools were a mandatory school system established solely for Indigenous children. There were 140 federally run Indian residential schools which operated in Canada between 1831 and 1998. It is estimated that at least 150,000 children from hundreds of Indigenous communities across Canada were forcibly taken from their parents by the government and sent to residential schools[1].  These schools were largely operated by certain churches and religious organizations and administered and funded by the federal government as a key aspect of colonialism. The system was imposed on Indigenous people as part of a broad set of assimilation efforts to destroy their rich cultures, identities, and to suppress their histories.

The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is a solemn reminder of this painful Canadian history and a call to action for reflection and education, so these tragic events are never repeated.

Meaning of the Orange Shirt
Also on September 30, many Canadians both young and old will wear orange shirts as a visual acknowledgement of National Truth and Reconciliation Day. 

Orange Shirt Day is an Indigenous-led grassroots commemorative day that honors the children who survived residential schools and remembers those who did not. This day relates to the experience of Phyllis Webstad, who on her first day of residential school arrived wearing a new orange shirt, which was taken from her. It is now a symbol of the stripping away of culture, freedom and self-esteem experienced by Indigenous children over generations.

As a strong sign of solidarity with our Indigenous community members, Winpak employees are encouraged to wear orange on September 30 to raise awareness of the tragic legacy of residential schools, and to honor the survivors.

Acknowledgement of Indigenous Land
Land acknowledgements are a way of creating space for Indigenous peoples.  They are a way of saying “we see you, we acknowledge you were here on this land before us and we are committed to reconciling our relationship”[2].

Winnipeg is located within Treaty No. 1 Territory, the traditional lands of the Anishinabe (Ojibway), Ininew (Cree), Oji-Cree, Dene, and Dakota, and is the Birthplace of the Métis Nation and the Heart of the Métis Nation Homeland[3].

Winpak Division, Winpak Corporate, and American Biaxis Inc. all reside on Saulteaux Crescent in Winnipeg Manitoba.  Settling just North of Winnipeg the Saulteaux First Nations people were led by Chief Peguis, who was once hailed as the most powerful Chief in the region[4]

Winpak is proud to acknowledge the Indigenous lands on which our Winnipeg facilities reside and honor the rich history of the past Indigenous leaders who once ruled over our vicinity.

Grounding Canada’s History and Present Together
Now that we’ve shared the history behind the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, what can we personally do to commemorate this day?  Here are some suggestions:

  • Take some time to pause, think and reflect on what this day means
  • Learn more about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission
  • Acknowledge all the children and families devastated by residential schools

For more information on National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, and how you can support the reconciliation process, please visit:

[2] Traditional Land Acknowledgements: More than Just a Gesture
[3] City of Winnipeg Indigenous Accord
[4] Dictionary of Canadian Biography

Caroline Schroen
Caroline Schroen
Manager, Corporate Communications
Winnipeg, MB

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