Canada's first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation takes place on September 30.
Canada's first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation takes place on September 30.

Queen’s Law, in collaboration with the Indigenous Law Students’ Alliance (ILSA), is hosting activities this week in support of Canada’s inaugural National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on September 30.  

“The observance of a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is the first time in this country's history whereby the harms suffered by victims and survivors of the Indian Residential School/Institution system, are acknowledged, remembered, and honored,” says Stacia Loft, Law’20, Director of Indigenous Initiatives and Equity, Diversity, and Inclusivity Programs. “Recognition of this day is one of many steps, on a very long journey, that need to be taken for us to realize reconciliation.”  

In addition to the commemorative events, learning opportunities, and ceremonies taking place across Queen’s, the law school is reflecting on the day in several ways. One way will be through a message from Dean Mark Walters on September 30 about the importance of Indigenization, reconciliation, and supporting Indigenous legal traditions. Another message is by Hugo Choquette, Law’05, LLM’10, PhD’17, Academic Director of the Certificate in Law program and Aboriginal Law instructor, who has recorded a video message about the past, present, and future role of law with respect to Indigenous peoples’ rights. Also, ILSA members have planned a social media campaign leveraging the Queen’s Law channels to promote awareness and education and are selling orange hoodies to raise funds for the Orange Shirt Society.

The social media campaign will run on Instagram until September 30. ILSA member Taylor Day, Law’22, says, “We are aiming to inform the general public on not only the residential school system, but also the after-effects that continue today within Indigenous communities. When the children’s remains were found at the locations of former residential schools this summer, not one Indigenous person was surprised. Personally, I recall my family members discussing residential schools in front of me at a very young age. The detail included within the stories passed down from generation to generation, family to family, were so gruesome and frightening – traumatic visuals for a young child who had yet to understand what being ‘Indian’ even meant.” 

Information provided in the campaign will include the history of church-run and federally-run residential schools, why Orange Shirt Day is on September 30, how Orange Shirt Day is different from the new federal statutory holiday, and how people can get involved with local Indigenous initiatives.  

ILSA members will be selling orange “Every Child Matters” hoodies outside of both the Law building and Stauffer Library on September 30 from 9:00 a.m. until they’re sold out. “Come early!” Day advises. “We hope to remind students and staff to wear something orange in support of Orange Shirt Day.” Hoodies will be available for a minimum donation of $30. Net proceeds from sales, as well as donations, are being given to the Orange Shirt Society.  

Day says to the Queen’s community, “Start conversations with your non-Indigenous classmates about the events going on, the ILSA social media campaign, and greater ongoing Indigenous issues – do not save these conversations only for your Indigenous classmates or friends.”

Follow the Indigenous Law Students’ Alliance on Facebook and Instagram