National Day for Truth and Reconciliation Reflections


National Day for Truth and Reconciliation Reflections

September 30, 2021, was the first National Day of Truth and Reconciliation. This is a day to honour the Residential School victims and the survivors. We acknowledge the harm caused and the inter-generational trauma that bore from the seeds of systemic racism. 

On this day, in honour of the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation iSMSS staff members wrote reflections. Here are their reflections from September 30, 2021 


Corey Bighorn ( He/Him),
Camp fYrefly Coordinator 

"As an Indigenous person who grew up hearing all of the stories, the children who were taken and are still taken from our communities today are constantly on my mind. I cannot live each day without reflecting on how much these systems have stolen from me. The last three generations of my family have all had parts of their identity stripped from them within these schools. As a product of these tears in my family, I am the first generation to emerge that can restore the connections to our language, land, and culture. There is no way to get back or to measure all of the gifts and contributions our lost children could have made to our communities. I guess all I can do is try to live up to my fullest potential - something each one of those children should have had the opportunity to do."

Gabe Calderon  (They/Them), 
Where the Rivers Meet Coordinator

"As an Omamiwinini Anishinabeg/Algonquin and L’nu/Mi’kmaq, for me this day should be a day of reflection, remembering the colonial history that we all share, and also a day to support Indigenous people. You can support by going to a vigil, dropping off some food or donating to an Indigenous organization, volunteering, or taking time to think about whose land you’re on. I will be thinking of my family, those that survived residential schools and those that didn’t. I will be thinking of my privilege, to be learning Anishinabemowin (Algonquin language), to attend ceremony and to be proud to be Indigenous when those in residential school were denied that. To all those who are grieving today, to all those who are waiting for justice, my heart is with you. Kichi miigwech Kije-Manido kinagego."

Dr. Glynnis Lieb ( She/Her),
Executive Director 

"On this first official TRC Day, I am thinking about the incredibly positive impact Indigenous people in my life have had on me. I think about all the kindness and knowledge that has been shared with me freely, despite my having no special deservingness. I am struck by thoughts of what this land and our existence on it would look like had settlers respected and learned the ways of Indigenous peoples. I promise to listen, to respect, and to act in ways that put Indigenous people’s voices at the forefront."

Aman Powar-Grewal (She/Her),
Manager of Programs & Studies 

"My immediate response when I think of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is sadness. I am deeply disturbed that so many people could be treated so horribly while others were silent and even complicit. This day amplifies the other racial inequities I see in day-to-day life. I feel angry that some people still don't care to make meaningful changes. But after sadness and anger, I feel hope when I see more people stopping to think about reconciliation and teaching their children how to be better citizens. I use this day as another opportunity to teach my kids about tangible ways we can support those around us."

Evan Westfal (He/Him),
fYrefly in Schools Education Coordinator

"As we move forward advocating for equity in regards to sexual and gender diversity, we cannot disregard the important social movements of Truth and Reconciliation. Intersectionality informs us that no single social movement is isolated. My work involves a heavy focus on 2SLGBTQ+ students and teachers in schools, and students and teachers have told me time and again that social attitudes relating to homophobia and transphobia are directly linked to the harmful effects of colonization. I know that this work needs to be done in tandem with the TRC calls to action. Marsha P. Johnson put it best when she said, "No pride for some of us without liberation for all of us."

Alex Marshall (She/Her), 
fYrefly in Schools Rural Coordinator

"During truth and reconciliation week I am always reminded about my work as an educator, and my obligation and responsibility to ensure that we do better for our indiginous siblings and honour and advocate for the TRC calls to action EVERY week."

Susan Dut ( She/Her),
Communications & Events Coordinator 

"As an immigrant who came here as a refugee, today often brings up a variety of emotions as I reflect on the pain, sorrow, and grief of the Indigenous community and the unfathomable suffering they were put through. It gives me feelings of uneasiness and deep sadness to think about how a country that was a haven for my family and I could inflict so much pain and violence to others. I use this day to reflect and to continue to learn more about the TRC recommendations and what actions I can take to effect change on a personal level. I find ways to participate and to attend Indigenous-led events. In this way, I can be present and acknowledge the pain inflicted in the past and the present. I understand that there is no healing without acknowledgment of the harm caused. In these small ways, this is how I show my support to the Indigenous community."

Kelli Luber ( She/Her),
Program Assistant 

"Sometimes it helps me to remember the difference between fault and responsibility. To me, fault is in the past, and responsibility is in the present. Taking responsibility doesn't necessarily mean something was my fault. It means I have the ability to do something now (I am response-able), and learning about the past can inform and guide the response."


At iSMSS we understand that the path towards reconciliation is an ongoing movement. Here are some resources to help you on your path to learning and reconciliation.
Indigenous Canada - Free U of A Course
Native Land

If you are someone you know is feeling distressed, please contact the National Indian Residential School Crisis Line at 1-866-925-4419. 

Steps You Can Take 

  1. Learn Indigenous perspectives on Canadian History
  2. Understand the history and legacy of Residential Schools
  3. Explore the connections between treaties, constitutional, Indigenous and human rights
  4. Recognize the rich contributions of Indigenous people
  5. Take action to address historical and present day injustices
  6. Share your knowledge with others



Here are a few activities you can do in Honour of National Day for Truth and Reconicilation. Events include both in person and online events. 

All Events