A Message from St. Joseph’s Health System: 2022 National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

Sep 30, 2022

As we observe the second official National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on Friday, September 30, it is important that we recognize this day as an opportunity to pause and reflect on the trauma and legacy of the residential school system in Canada. By joining the national community in observing this day, we acknowledge how integral it is for Catholic healthcare institutions to ensure we are continuously seeking ways to be thoughtful, considerate and compassionate in how we serve our community in providing high-quality patient care.

Background on National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

Orange Shirt Day began in 2013, when Phyllis Webstad, from the Stswecem’c Xgat’tem First Nation, first told her story of attending residential school, where the new orange shirt her grandmother had given her for school was stripped from her. Since that day, September 30 has been recognized across Canada as Orange Shirt Day, an opportunity to discuss in a meaningful way the effects of residential schools.

In 2021, the Government of Canada legislated September 30 as National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. It follows one of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) recommendations, which calls for the government to work with Indigenous people to develop a day 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.”

There is still work to be done

This summer, Pope Francis apologized to Indigenous residential school survivors in Maskwacis, Alberta, following a visit to the former site of the Ermineskin Indian Residential School. During his visit, he said, “We want to walk together, to pray together and to work together, so that the sufferings of the past can lead to a future of justice, healing and reconciliation.”

Pope Francis’ apology can be found HERE

As further unmarked graves continue to be discovered, such as the recent 43 discovered at the former Mohawk Residential School, St. Joseph’s Health System remains committed to working alongside the Catholic healthcare community towards justice, healing and reconciliation.

In its statement last week, the Catholic Health Alliance of Canada acknowledged the difficult truth about the history and impact on the health status of Indigenous Peoples, and the journey we seek to build trust and work towards transformative change for Indigenous People receiving care within the Catholic health system in Canada.

What you can do

I invite and encourage our St. Joseph’s Health System family to join in this journey toward justice, healing and reconciliation.

  • Many of our organizations have created opportunities for healthcare workers to learn more. Please seek these out.
  • Show your support – wear an orange shirt and/or buy an Orange Shirt button to demonstrate your interest and support.

Listen. Learn. These are small but tangible steps to continue building bridges toward reconciliation.

Support and resources

We recognize that this may be a difficult time, and a time of reflection for Indigenous staff, patients and families. This is an opportunity for all of us to reflect on our relationship with Indigenous Peoples, to educate ourselves about Canada’s history, and take advantage of available educational resources. These are some resources to become better informed.

If you or someone you know needs support, please reach out. Supports available include:

  • The Hope for Wellness Help Line, which offers immediate help to all Indigenous peoples across Canada at 1-855-242-3310.
  • A national Indian Residential School Crisis Line provides support for former students and those affected. Access emotional and crisis referral services by calling the 24-hour national crisis line at 1-866-925-4419.


Ms. Liz Buller
President and CEO
St. Joseph’s Health System