National Day for Truth and Reconciliation (NDTR) - Sept. 30

September 13, 2021

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

The federal government recently passed legislation to create the annual National Day for Truth and Reconciliation (NDTR), a federal statutory holiday on Sept. 30. This was done in response to one of the 94 Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which 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. (TRC Call to Action, 81)

This day provides an opportunity for all Canadians to recognize and commemorate the legacy of residential schools, and commit to working for truth and reconciliation in the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada.

Acknowledging the particular association that exists between our Catholic Church and the Indian Residential Schools, the Archdiocese will also recognize this day as a statutory holiday.

Unlike other holidays, the NDTR is not just a day off from work. Instead it is very much a day when we encourage our whole Catholic community to take up the work of prayer and reflection, of learning and listening, of reaching out and reaching forward toward a new relationship of healing and reconciliation with Indigenous peoples of this land.

The opportunity set before us – with this new national holiday – is to renew and strengthen relationships, by recognizing and affirming the individual and collective dignity of Indigenous Peoples while affirming our commitment to love and respect each other as members of the same human family. In other words, it is to resolve to live by Christ's example of loving each other as he loved us.

There is much work to do, as a Church and as individuals, to spread the message of the Gospel and of healing and reconciliation from the troubled past and into a future in which all Canadians – regardless of background and history – can stand together.

What can we do on this day? Here are a few suggestions:

Let us embrace the spirit of this new national holiday and truly live our way into new relationships of truth, reconciliation, love and respect.

Yours sincerely in Christ,

‚ú†Richard W. Smith
Archbishop of Edmonton