National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

September 30th, 2021 will mark Canada’s first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in honor of the lost children and Survivors of residential schools, their families and communities.

This past June, the government of Canada created this federal statutory holiday as a direct response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action #80 asking for a day in commemoration of the painful history, legacy and ongoing impact of the residential schools.

The last federally run Indian Residential School closed in 1998, only 23 years ago. From 2008 to 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada investigated the Residential School system gathering testimonies from Survivors, their families, and the communities affected by them, and informed Canadians about what had happened. This lead to the release of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: 94 Calls to Action asking for change from governments, educational and religious institutions, civil society groups and all Canadians.

Indigenous peoples experience ongoing health and social inequities which are rooted in colonialization and the lasting intergenerational impact of the Residential School system. As a consequence, First Nations, Inuit and Métis people are at greater risk of poor health outcomes and sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections including hepatitis C virus (HCV). Estimates have shown HCV rates are five times higher among Indigenous peoples compared to non-Indigenous Canadians.

In CanHepC’s Blueprint to inform hepatitis C elimination efforts in Canada, Indigenous peoples are among the 5 priority populations with a disproportionate burden of HCV. Developed through a broad consultation and in collaboration with Indigenous people, the Blueprint formulates a number of recommendations drawing attention to the specific actions needed to ensure Indigenous peoples have equitable access to HCV prevention, testing and care services. Following-up on one of these recommendations, CanHepC is currently facilitating the development of a specific National Indigenous peoples Roadmap for HCV elimination lead by Indigenous stakeholders with expertise in the area. An Indigenous platform lead by Indigenous members of our network spanning across our research and training pillars will also help us through our journey in reconciliation and decolonizing our own work ensuring more Indigenous engagement and leadership in the Network.

On this first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, CanHepC would like to take the opportunity to reiterate its commitment to reconciliation working together with Indigenous people for a better way forward, listening and learning from each other.