National Day for Truth and Reconciliation – September 30, 2022

September 30th, 2022 marks the second National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in Canada. Since 2013, this day has been observed as Orange Shirt Day, which aims to recognize the history of residential schools and the aggressive assimilation of Indigenous peoples. In 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC), under Action 80, proposed to establish a statutory holiday, “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.”

For the past year the National Consortium for Indigenous Medical Education (NCIME) has been working to provide leadership and support to our partners as they fulfil their collective responsibilities to respond to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the TRC’s Calls to Action, and the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Calls for Justice. The consortium supports the implementation of Calls to Action 23 and 24 and is committed to transparent reporting on progress. The NCIME is focused on creating change in the Canadian medical system by fostering leadership development in Indigenous medical learners, developing anti-racism policies and processes, improving gaps in education, and closing gaps in health outcomes. Through some of this work we now have an Indigenous Data Sovereignty Statement and a set of principles that will guild us in how we engage with data, build and implement the necessary data frameworks.

“The Sovereign Status of Indigenous Peoples rests with their nationhood, not with a country, organization, or third party. Our self-determination is not dependent on Canada or the provinces and their laws. As the First Peoples, Indigenous societies pre-exist colonization and have pre-existing rights to any settlement on these lands. Organizations are not sovereign, and so they cannot claim the sovereignty that belongs to the nations themselves. The right to self-determination is a sovereign right that Treaties have affirmed, Section 35 of the Canadian Constitution and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The responsibility and task of settler organizations and Canada is to support Indigenous sovereignty. For medical schools and medical associations, their role is to enhance our sovereignty by cooperating and assisting in the sharing of pertinent information. This concrete step towards reconciliation can have a lasting impact and create a role for agency whereby the National Consortium for Indigenous Medical Education can assist Indigenous Nations in asserting their sovereignty with their consent.” 

̶- Ovide Mercredi

In honour and recognition of the children who were forcibly taken to these schools and the resilience of the survivors, we invite you to educate yourself and reflect on the history and continued impacts of colonialism and commit to at least one individual and one collective contribution to action. We stand in solidarity with Indigenous peoples and recognize with much appreciation the efforts of those working towards reconciliation.

We are including a list of resources for those interested in learning more.