Insights

How organizations can acknowledge the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

Posted by
FHR
Insights

How organizations can acknowledge the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

Écrit par
FHR

This year, for the first time, September 30th will be a statutory holiday for employees of the federal government and federally regulated workplaces in Canada. The Canadian government passed Bill C-5 earlier this year marking the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation to commemorate the legacy of residential schools in Canada.

This day is intended to provide an opportunity for Canadians to learn about and reflect on the genocide of Indigenous Peoples through the residential school system, and to commemorate the survivors, their families, and their communities – as called for by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. It also coincides with Orange Shirt Day, an annual day that encourages Canadians to wear orange to recognize and honour the healing journeys of residential school survivors and their families, and to commit to the ongoing process of reconciliation.   

Many Canadian organizations are wondering how to approach this day in a meaningful and authentic way, and have questions around how best to take action based on the recommendations provided by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission - particularly Call to Action number 92, which calls 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.

What does this mean for your organization?

Bill C-5 only mandates a statutory holiday for employees of the federal government and federally regulated workplaces. However, employers may choose to acknowledge the day in a number of ways, and your organization’s response should reflect the level of acknowledgement you’ve given to Indigenous issues in the past. If you have never internally acknowledged Indigenous issues, history, or culture, this day provides an opportunity to start the conversation.  

Here are some things your organization may consider:

Time off. If considering giving employees time off, this should not be the organization’s only chosen action. All time off should be preceded by the sharing of resources or training, and any training should ideally be delivered by an Indigenous person or organization that is being compensated for their time. To give an example, FHR chose to recognize National Indigenous Peoples’ Day in June 2021 by giving employees the day off. In the lead up to the day, we held a training session for all employees, hosted by the Native Canadian Centre of Toronto. We also shared a list of resources for further learning about Indigenous history and culture, and all employees were encouraged to spend time engaging with these resources on their day off.  

Wearing orange. In the same way that giving employees time off should not be the organization’s only chosen action, encouraging employees to wear orange shirts to mark Orange Shirt Day should only be done if meaningful space is being created to discuss the lasting impact of residential schools. Otherwise, it could be perceived as inauthentic and performative.

External messaging. If considering acknowledging the day publicly, on social media or otherwise, ensure your internal response is authentic and credible, and rooted in your company’s mission, vision or values. Especially if your organization hasn’t acknowledged Indigenous issues previously, prioritize internal actions over external communications and focus on the intended purpose of the holiday: truth and reconciliation.  

Recognizing the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

  • Recognize that this may be a difficult day for employees as they spend time reflecting.
  • Create space and understanding for employees and share any internal resources or programs they can access for support.  
  • Share a curated list of resources for employees to learn about Indigenous Peoples history and the legacy of residential schools in Canada.
  • If giving employees a day off, encourage them to spend time engaging with these resources during their time off.
  • Consider facilitating a discussion among employees to share their reactions or learnings from the resources you share.
  • Host an internal training session or series of training sessions about the history and culture of Indigenous Peoples (facilitated by an Indigenous person or organization that is being compensated for their time).
  • Research local marches or events that mark the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in the city/town where your organization is located, and encourage employees to attend.
  • Consider matching donations made by employees to an organization that supports Indigenous communities and reconciliation efforts.

Regardless of what actions your organization is planning for September 30th this year, be sure to approach the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in an empathetic, thoughtful, and intentional manner, both internally and externally.

If you’d like to learn more about FHR’s DE&I Practice including counsel, tools, and training offerings, please reach out to our Mosaic Canada Team (FHR.Mosaic.Practice@fhhighroad.com).

This year, for the first time, September 30th will be a statutory holiday for employees of the federal government and federally regulated workplaces in Canada. The Canadian government passed Bill C-5 earlier this year marking the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation to commemorate the legacy of residential schools in Canada.

This day is intended to provide an opportunity for Canadians to learn about and reflect on the genocide of Indigenous Peoples through the residential school system, and to commemorate the survivors, their families, and their communities – as called for by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. It also coincides with Orange Shirt Day, an annual day that encourages Canadians to wear orange to recognize and honour the healing journeys of residential school survivors and their families, and to commit to the ongoing process of reconciliation.   

Many Canadian organizations are wondering how to approach this day in a meaningful and authentic way, and have questions around how best to take action based on the recommendations provided by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission - particularly Call to Action number 92, which calls 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.

What does this mean for your organization?

Bill C-5 only mandates a statutory holiday for employees of the federal government and federally regulated workplaces. However, employers may choose to acknowledge the day in a number of ways, and your organization’s response should reflect the level of acknowledgement you’ve given to Indigenous issues in the past. If you have never internally acknowledged Indigenous issues, history, or culture, this day provides an opportunity to start the conversation.  

Here are some things your organization may consider:

Time off. If considering giving employees time off, this should not be the organization’s only chosen action. All time off should be preceded by the sharing of resources or training, and any training should ideally be delivered by an Indigenous person or organization that is being compensated for their time. To give an example, FHR chose to recognize National Indigenous Peoples’ Day in June 2021 by giving employees the day off. In the lead up to the day, we held a training session for all employees, hosted by the Native Canadian Centre of Toronto. We also shared a list of resources for further learning about Indigenous history and culture, and all employees were encouraged to spend time engaging with these resources on their day off.  

Wearing orange. In the same way that giving employees time off should not be the organization’s only chosen action, encouraging employees to wear orange shirts to mark Orange Shirt Day should only be done if meaningful space is being created to discuss the lasting impact of residential schools. Otherwise, it could be perceived as inauthentic and performative.

External messaging. If considering acknowledging the day publicly, on social media or otherwise, ensure your internal response is authentic and credible, and rooted in your company’s mission, vision or values. Especially if your organization hasn’t acknowledged Indigenous issues previously, prioritize internal actions over external communications and focus on the intended purpose of the holiday: truth and reconciliation.  

Recognizing the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

  • Recognize that this may be a difficult day for employees as they spend time reflecting.
  • Create space and understanding for employees and share any internal resources or programs they can access for support.  
  • Share a curated list of resources for employees to learn about Indigenous Peoples history and the legacy of residential schools in Canada.
  • If giving employees a day off, encourage them to spend time engaging with these resources during their time off.
  • Consider facilitating a discussion among employees to share their reactions or learnings from the resources you share.
  • Host an internal training session or series of training sessions about the history and culture of Indigenous Peoples (facilitated by an Indigenous person or organization that is being compensated for their time).
  • Research local marches or events that mark the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in the city/town where your organization is located, and encourage employees to attend.
  • Consider matching donations made by employees to an organization that supports Indigenous communities and reconciliation efforts.

Regardless of what actions your organization is planning for September 30th this year, be sure to approach the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in an empathetic, thoughtful, and intentional manner, both internally and externally.

If you’d like to learn more about FHR’s DE&I Practice including counsel, tools, and training offerings, please reach out to our Mosaic Canada Team (FHR.Mosaic.Practice@fhhighroad.com).

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