Embrace The Truth, Allow it to Set You Free                           Author S.L Panter

National Day of Truth and Reconciliation is a day to recognize the colonial legacy of residential schools.  This day is vital to the ongoing reconciliation process and honouring Indigenous survivors

The Canadian Government policies of assimilation including the Indian Act (1876), residential schools, and Indian Hospitals.  These were designed to forcibly separate families, decimate cultures, and disempower communities.  Through this forced assimilation, children were being deprived of healthy examples of love and respect, which also resulted in a tragic loss of distinct cultures, traditions, languages, and knowledge systems of all First Nations including Inuit and Métis Nation peoples.

For more than 150 years, First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Nation peoples’ children were taken (often forcibly) from their families and communities and forced to attend residential schools that were located far from their homes.

The first church operated residential school opened in 1831.  In 1920, the Indian Act made attendance at residential schools’ compulsory for Treaty-Status children aged from 7-16 years of age.  There was a total of 139 Indian residential schools identified within the Indian Residential School (IRS) Settlement Agreement.  The last residential school closed its doors in 1996.

The trauma and damage inflicted by residential schools continue to this day.


What Does This Mean Today?

Today this means an opportunity for everyone to participate in the repair work, starting with reflection, lead to healing, changing, and positive growth.  Growth can be painful and uncomfortable, which is a positive sign for change.  This positive change is on the horizon with National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

On September 30, 2021, is for:

  • Recognizing Indigenous residential school survivors; first, second, and third generations plus
  • Allies and Non-Indigenous peoples to connect and empathize with one another
  • An opportunity for all to learn from our shared history

I believe the first step to take on this healing journey is one of courage because it takes courage to relearn our history.  The goal is not to be perfect, but we can be better and do better.


My Vision for Truth & Reconciliation

As a First Nations Two Spirited Haida womxn, I have been asking myself what National Day for Truth and Reconciliation means to me?  This day means the first step in a long journey home.  To begin healing a deep and painful wound that can now be felt and seen by others outside of Indigenous communities.

It is an opportunity for authentic allies to rally and join tired voices, speaking their truths.  Strength can be offered to those tired of carrying an ancestral weight.  We can all share in experience inequality and inequity.

It is an opening to connect with one another through our hearts.  I have been learning to live ‘Heart First’ which is Sgwaansing K’uuga in Xaaydaa Kil my native language.


What Can Our Future Hold?

The time for courageous action is being offered to all of us.  National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is a call-to-action to and for all Canadians.  There is nothing to be done about the past, yet it provides a powerful lesson where we can all learn to grow together to as individuals, families, communities, societies, and nations.

The Okanagan Valley College of Massage Therapy (OVCMT) looks forward to continued relationships with local bands and Indigenous peoples.

In the spirit of learning from our collective past, together let’s create conversations, connections, and relationships.  Let’s move forward toward reconciling and provide a better example for our children.


Learn More & Actionable Links







“A Warrior’s Way Home”


No longer a myth, a legend, and echos from Mother

I felt you through time, echoing

Feelings no longer contained

Now liberated, reaching, stretching, searching

A bright beaming spotlight

Heart to heart; connecting


I see you with my own haunted, painful eyes

I hold your scarred and shaking body with my own trembling body

I taste your grief seasoned with salt, as they fall to my lined face

I hear your cries and prayers through my ringing ears

I smell your fear, and it has engulfed my spirit


I witnessed your five, with my own five

An echo in time repeating; history

Leaving footprints, forming a map

Signposts of warnings and mis-steps

Where to stand, where to walk; choose


A wound is lanced and seeping; raw

Caring hands and courage for the steps ahead

Blind eyes create more stumbles

Fear can no longer be present

Love is required


Love and fear cannot co-exist