National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

September 30, 2021 marks the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

The day honours the lost children and Survivors of residential schools, their families and communities. Public commemoration of the tragic and painful history and ongoing impacts of residential schools is a vital component of the reconciliation process.

The League stands in support and solidarity with Indigenous, First Nations, Inuit and Métis people, communities and cultures. The League of Canadian Poets supports the call to action to carry out the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission; we support the call to action for further exploration of the residential schools in Canada; and we support the work of Indigenous leaders and communities in the Canadian legal system as they continue to fight for justice and reconciliation.

When releasing our Statement of support and call to action regarding the 215 children found buried at Kamloops Indian Residential School on June 17, 2021, we were humbled and honoured to share the poem “Angels” written by Louise Bernice Halfe – Sky Dancer alongside the statement. Today we pause again to read “Angels” in reflection, in condolence, and in commitment to healing and reconciliation. Louise Bernice Halfe– Sky Dancer is a member of the League of Canadian Poets and the current Parliamentary Poet Laureate.   

As an organization, the League of Canadian Poets is committed to being a catalyst for change and empathy within the arts community. We will continue to centre and amplify the voices of racialized and marginalized artists, including those who identify as Indigenous – First Nations, Métis, and Inuit. If you are a descendant of or identify as a colonizer or settler in Canada, we encourage you to learn, take action, and/or donate your time and resources to reconciliation and increased equity for Indigenous people. 


To learn more about National Day for Truth and Reconciliation:

For more information on organizations that support Indigenous people and communities, see: 

Poem name: Angels: 215 >, 1820 – 1979 Poet name: Louise Bernice Halfe – Sky Dancer Poem: “The Past is Always Our Present” A cradle board hangs from a tree A beaded moss bag is folded in a small chest A child’s moccasin is tucked Into a skunk Pipe bag Children’s shoes in a ghost dance. A mother clutches these Palms held against her face A river runs between her fingers. A small boy covered in soot On all fours a naked toddler Plays in the water, while her Kokom’s skirt Is wet to her calves. “How tall are you now?” she asked. “I’m bigger than the blueberry shrub, Oh, as tall as an Aspen Where my birth was buried. See my belly-button?” Each have dragged a rabbit to the tent, a tipi Watched expert hands Skin, butcher, make berry soup for dinner. Boy falls a robin with a slingshot He is shown how to skewer the breast Roast the bird on hot coals. He will not kill Without purpose, again. The tipi, tent, the log-shack are empty Trees crane their heads through The tipi flaps, the tent door Through the cracks of the mud-shack. A mother’s long wail from 1890 Carried in the wind. A grandparent Pokes embers, a sprinkle of tobacco, Cedar, sweetgrass, fungus, sage Swirls upward. Children’s creeks Trickle in their sleep. A blanket of deep earth Covered fingers entwined Arms around each other. We have been Waiting. It is time to release This storm That consumes all this nation. Awasis, this spirit-light, these angels Dance in the flame. The bones Will share their stories. Listen. Act. These children are ours. Could be..............................Yours. End of poem. Credits: Copyright © Louise Bernice Halfe – Sky Dancer Louise Bernice Halfe – Sky Dancer was raised on Saddle Lake Reserve and attended Blue Quills Residential School. She graduated with a Bachelor of social work from the University of Regina and completed two years of Nechi Training in St. Albert’s Nechi Institute. Ms. Halfe serves on various committees throughout Canada and provides services with Opik, an Elders circle that works with apprehended children and their families. In 2005, she served as Saskatchewan’s second Poet Laureate. She is widely recognized for weaving Cree language and teachings into her works. Her books, Bear Bones and Feathers (1994), Blue Marrow (2004), The Crooked Good (2007), and Burning In This Midnight Dream (2016) have all received numerous accolades and awards. Sôhkêyihta features selected poems and was published in 2018. Her latest work awâsis – kinky and dishevelled will be released in the spring of 2021. Ms. Halfe has received honorary degrees from Wilfred Laurier University, the University of Saskatchewan and Mount Royal University. She is married and has two adult children and three grandsons.

If you would like to read more poetry Indigenous poets, check out I am what becomes of broken branch: A Collection of Voices by Indigenous Poets in Canada. Featuring poetry by:Michelle Brown, Kirk Bueckert, Carol Casey, Colleen Charlette, and Cooper Skjeie. Edited by Rita Bouvier and lovingly hand-sewn by Nic Brewer.