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National Day for Truth and Reconciliation
On September 30, 2023, the Canadian Council on Animal Care (CCAC) recognizes the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, a federally designated day to reflect on the intergenerational harm that residential schools have caused to Indigenous families and communities, and to honour those who have been affected by this injustice.
A formal residential school system for Indigenous children operated in Canada for more than one hundred years, with evidence of schools dating back as far as the seventeenth century. In total, more than 130 federally supported schools existed, found in nearly every province and territory. More than 150,000 First Nations, Inuit, and Métis children were removed, often forcibly, from their homes and communities, with the aim of isolating them from their families, traditions, and cultures. Thousands of these children died at the schools as a direct result of abuse and neglect. Many who survived the trauma of the experience, deprived of their languages and identities, were never reunited with their families.
The devastating legacy of residential schools endures across generations of Indigenous families and belongs to a larger history of systemic racism, discrimination, and injustice that Indigenous peoples have endured, and continue to face, in Canada.
The CCAC encourages members across its community to use today as a day of remembrance, reflection, action, and learning. The CCAC also continues to support the Towards reconciliation: 10 Calls to Action to natural scientists working in Canada, a document that “challenges the scientific community to recognize that reconciliation requires a new way of conducting natural science, one that includes and respects Indigenous communities, rights, and knowledge, leading to better scientific and community outcomes.”