Truth and Reconciliation

Being an Ally for Truth and Reconciliation

Friday, November 19, 2021

On September 30, 2021, this country marked the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, to honour residential school survivors as well as the children who were taken from their families and lost their lives through the system.  

The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation responds to Call to Action 80 from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action. It states: "We call upon the federal government, in collaboration with Aboriginal peoples, to establish, as a statutory holiday, a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation to honour Survivors, their families, and communities, and ensure that public commemoration of the history and legacy of residential schools remains a vital component of the reconciliation process." 

The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is a day of remembrance for Indigenous people. For non-Indigenous folks, it is an opportunity to listen, learn and become better allies to Indigenous communities.  

What is YWCA Metro Vancouver doing to Advance Truth and Reconciliation? 

Advancing truth and reconciliation is a key priority in the YWCA’s current strategic plan. We have committed to supporting the full realization of substantive equality for Indigenous peoples in Canada, and to collaborating with Indigenous and community partners to advance the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s 94 Calls to Action. 

But what does that mean in practice?  

While September 30 is currently only designated as a statutory holiday for federal employees, the YWCA recognized this day as a statutory holiday for all employees, encouraging everyone to reflect on how to individually and collectively support reconciliation. Recognizing that it has been an especially challenging time for the Indigenous community, Indigenous staff were offered an additional day off to support healing and wellness. 

The YWCA continues to provide mandatory truth and reconciliation training for all new employees, delivered by Reciprocal Consulting. And the truth and reconciliation staff committee continues to meet regularly to provide guidance and recommendations to the organization. 

Nicole Smith is the YWCA's Aboriginal Infant Development Program Advisor/Consultant for the Coast Fraser North Region, based at YWCA Crabtree Corner Community Resource Centre. She shares some thoughts on how people can be better allies to Indigenous communities year-round. 

"To me how to be a better ally to Indigenous peoples and community means not only supporting us by educating oneself with the colonial past that has been in the spotlight over the last few years. It's also celebrating our beauty, resilience and strength. 

What this can look like is, yes, supporting things like Orange Shirt Day but also showing up to our events on national Indigenous people’s day, learn about the territories you occupy, go to our art shows, our movies, read our books – we have an unlimited number of amazing authors talking about so many important topics. We are still here and we are still practicing our cultures through dance, art and knowledge sharing. 

Support our businesses. Invest in us with your presence when we are showing our strength not just showing up when we are in our resilience. 

We are still here." 

For more resources and Indigenous-led businesses to support, read our blog. For more information on the YWCA’s diversity, equity and inclusion work, please contact Tamara Robertson-Fry at |604 895 5860  

This article is part of the 2021 Fall/Winter edition of our Contact Newsletter. 
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