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:
- National Day for Truth and Reconciliation “Learning Journey” from the government of Canada: www.rcaanc-cirnac.gc.ca
- To learn more about the Truth and Reconciliation Committee’s findings about residential schools and detailed action plan, see: www.trc.ca/about-us.html
- About Orange Shirt Day: https://www.orangeshirtday.org
For more information on organizations that support Indigenous people and communities, see:
- Indigenous Organizations list from IndigenousWorks: indigenousworks.ca/en/resources/indigenous-organizations
- “Deepening Knowledge” list of Canada and Ontario-specific Indigenous organizations, from University of Toronto OISE: www.oise.utoronto.ca/deepeningknowledge/Community_Connections/Organizations.html
- Indigenous Organization list from the Thunder Bay Public Library: www.tbpl.ca/indigenousorganizations
- Mental health supports available:
- Former Residential School students can call 1-866-925-4419 for emotional crisis referral services and information on other health supports from the Government of Canada.
- Indigenous peoples across Canada can also go to The Hope for Wellness Help Line 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for counselling and crisis intervention. Call the toll-free Help Line at 1-855-242-3310 or connect to the online chat.
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.