Ms. Roberta Louise Jamieson photo
SEP 29, 2021

Learning about National Day for Truth and Reconciliation with Roberta Louise Jamieson

September 30, 2021, marks Canada’s first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. Today honours the First Nations, Inuit and Métis children of 130 federally run Indian Residential Schools, which operated in Canada between 1831 and 1997.

Commemoration of this painful history and acknowledgement of the ongoing impacts of residential schools on survivors, their families and communities are vitally important. On this day, we encourage all our CN railroaders, customers, partners and neighbours to wear orange to raise awareness of the tragic legacy of residential schools, honour the 150,000 children who survived and remember those who did not.

Ms. Roberta Louise Jamieson, OC, Kanyen'kehà:ka, is a Mohawk leader from the Six Nations of the Grand River Territory and Co-chair of the CN Indigenous Advisory Council.

Ms. Jamieson shares her thoughts on the significance of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and what we can all do to positively reinforce change:

What does September 30 mean to you?

“For me, September 30 is a day for reflection. I’ll be spending it with my family and making presentations to encourage Canadians to take real, concrete action for change. September 30 is personal for me for many reasons, not least of which is the very first residential school was opened in 1831 on the Mohawk Territory, my home.”

What should we all take away from the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation?

“The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is different for Indigenous people than for those who aren’t. Indigenous people live a legacy of intergenerational trauma; they live it every day as a direct result of the attempted cultural genocide perpetrated by the federal government and churches at that time to eradicate their identities, traditions and languages across Canada.

Many Canadians are learning about residential schools for the first time with the discovery of hundreds of unmarked graves at four former residential schools in Western Canada. As Canadians, we tend to see ourselves as champions of human rights globally, but we’re shocked and horrified by what went on in our own backyard, as recently as 23 years ago.

Of course, systemic racism against Indigenous people is still with us. It’s not by chance that too many Indigenous communities live in Third World conditions without clean drinking water. It’s not by chance that only 4-out-of-10 Indigenous youth graduate high school compared to 9-out-of-10 non-Indigenous youth. It’s not by chance that Indigenous people are overrepresented in prisons. It’s not by chance that Indigenous women and girls are more likely to be murdered or go missing. These truths are not isolated from the residential school experience.”

What can we do to truly recognize the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation?

“Canadians have made this day possible and everyone can do something positive to create meaningful change.

  • Learn about our history, not out of feelings of guilt or self-loathing, but from a spirit of acceptance and reconciliation.
  • Read Indigenous authors as well as the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s report.
  • Listen to Indigenous speakers. Hear their voices and experiences.
  • Talk to your children about what they’ve learned in school about residential schools.
  • Share what you’ve learned with colleagues, family and friends.
  • Donate to Indigenous led charities like Indspire. who are making a positive difference for Indigenous youth."

Read more about Ms. Jamieson’s ground-breaking career.

About CN’s Indigenous Advisory Council

CN’s Indigenous Advisory Council (IAC) is an independent body comprised of Indigenous peoples’ representatives from across the country. The IAC’s mandate is to provide advice to the members of CN’s Board and President and Chief Executive Officer on issues that are relevant to CN and its relationship with the over 200 Indigenous communities in which CN operates.

The goals of the IAC include reinforcing diversity and inclusion through policies and procedures that reflect these values, as well as fostering meaningful and long-lasting relationships between the railway and Indigenous peoples.

CN Aboriginal Affaires

“The Indigenous Advisory Council is an important forum for us to engage in an honest and constructive dialogue between the Company and Indigenous leaders so that we can all aspire to our full potential. Our society is changing rapidly and we must find ways to end discrimination and promote reconciliation while at the same time jointly addressing pressing issues such as economic inclusion and protection of our environment.”

- Roberta Louise Jamieson, OC, Kanyen'kehà:ka, Co-Chair

To learn more about the CN Indigenous Advisory Council, click here.