As a young girl, Phyllis was given a new orange shirt by her grandmother before being taken to a B.C. residential school. The shirt was confiscated and destroyed by her teacher on the first day of class. The destruction of Phyllis’s shirt has come to symbolize the colonial goal of residential schools to assimilate Indigenous peoples.  

In 2021, the federal government passed legislation to mark September 30 as the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. This federal holiday is an important part of the reconciliation process that has been called for by Indigenous peoples and by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. 

The ongoing recovery of unmarked graves sites near the locations of former residential schools has been a grim reminder of their legacy. CUPE continues to stand with Indigenous communities as they grieve these unjust losses within their communities. 

September 30 is a statutory holiday for workers in federally regulated sectors, as well as in some other jurisdictions. CUPE has prepared a guide to help members outside the federal sector bargain the holiday into their collective agreements. The guide is provided to locals as part of CUPE’s commitment to support reconciliation and justice for all Indigenous peoples 

What CUPE locals and members can do:  

  • Download CUPE’s guide on bargaininglanguage for the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation to find out how you can observe the holiday and support reconciliation efforts. 

  • Show your support on social media. Share a photo of yourself wearing an orange shirt using the hashtag #OrangeShirtDay. Tag CUPE on Facebook @cupescfp, Twitter @cupenat and Instagram @cupe_scfp.  

  • Download our guide to reconciliation for CUPE locals and consider how you and your local can support the calls to action.  

  • Invite an Indigenous speaker to your next virtual or in-person meeting to talk about truth and reconciliation.  

  • Learn more by taking CUPE’s Indigenous awareness workshop and human rights courses.