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National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

York University has a long-standing commitment to access, inclusion, equity and diversity; it is a leader in creating a more equitable, diverse and inclusive community on all its campuses. The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is an important day to remind us to pause and reflect on the intergenerational harm that the Residential School systems caused to Indigenous Peoples across the country. It is a time to reflect on the strength and resiliency of Indigenous peoples. Importantly, it is a time for recognizing our shared responsibilities for creating new and better relationships with Indigenous people. 

This year, we ask our community members to reflect on the theme Engaging in a Reconciliation Journey: Learning Through Various Forms of Media through featured events, films, resources and stories. A selection of Indigenous films are available to view below and will be screened at a series of in-person events being hosted at both the Keele and Glendon campuses from Monday, September 18 to Wednesday, September 27. The University will mark the day on Thursday, September 28 by hosting a hybrid community panel featuring the voices of staff reflecting on their learning journey, followed by a ceremonial fire at Skennen’kó:wa Gamig.

Members of the community must take it upon themselves to learn about the history and ongoing impacts of Residential Schools. We encourage all community members to take a minute of silence on September 30th to reflect on what steps they will take towards reconciliation. 

Download the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation Zoom Background.


York University Bookstore

We invite everyone to join the journey toward education and reconciliation by buying an orange shirt. The York University Bookstore is a committed partner of the Orange Shirt Society, with proceeds from the sale of Orange shirts.


  • Take a course at York University – there are many that have an Indigenous focus. 
  • Read the Indigenous Framework for York University: A Guide to Action
  • First Nations University of Canada (FNUniv): Nisitohtamowin ᓂᓯᑐᐦᑕᒧᐃᐧᐣ An Introduction to Understanding Indigenous Perspectives in Canada. In partnership with BMO and Reconciliation Education, FNUniv is bringing this introductory eLearning opportunity to organizations and communities across Canada. The eLearning course is a free public resource for all Canadians and is available June 1 to July 15 in recognition of National Indigenous History Month. It is an hour-long overview. 
  • University of Alberta course: Indigenous Canada is a 12-lesson massive open online course (MOOC) from the Faculty of Native Studies that explores Indigenous histories and contemporary issues in Canada. From an Indigenous perspective, this course explores key issues facing Indigenous Peoples today from a historical and critical perspective, highlighting national and local Indigenous-settler relations. If you take a course in audit mode, you will be able to see most course materials for free. 

Live Streams

National Day for Truth and Reconciliation at York

September 28, 2023

Reclaiming and Rewriting Indigenous Histories of the Western Hemisphere (the Americas)

September 29, 2022

Reflecting on the Legacies of Residential Schools: What it means for our present and our futures 

September 30, 2022

Reflections on the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

September 30, 2021

Indigenous Films & Documentaries

2006, 1h28m

Directed by Nadia McLaren Muffins for Granny is a remarkably layered, emotionally complex story of personal and cultural survival. McLaren tells the story of her own grandmother by combining precious home movie fragments with the stories of seven elders dramatically affected by their experiences in residential school. McLaren uses animation with a painterly visual approach to move the audience between the darkness of memory and the reality that these charismatic survivors live in today. 

2017, 1hr47m

This film is an adaptation of Ojibway writer Richard Wagamese’s award-winning novel, this moving and important drama sheds light on the dark history of Canada’s boarding schools or Indigenous Residential Schools and the indomitable spirit of Indigenous people.

2012, 1hr22min

In this feature film, the profound impact of the Canadian government’s residential school system is conveyed through the eyes of 2 children who were forced to face hardships beyond their years. As young children, Lyna and Glen were taken from their homes and placed in church-run boarding schools, where they suffered years of physical, sexual and emotional abuse, the effects of which persist in their adult lives. We Were Children gives voice to a national tragedy and demonstrates the incredible resilience of the human spirit.  

2021, 44min

In Sarain Fox’s Anishinaabe culture, women lead the family. Her auntie, Mary Bell, is the oldest surviving matriarch, and she holds the family’s history: the stories, the trauma, the truth. She is a knowledge keeper. The Indigenous way is to sit with elders while they live. And Fox’s job, as the youngest in her family, is to carry on those ways. Mary is a residential school survivor who worked with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to document the stories of other survivors. And now that she’s an elder, she’s focused on how those stories will live on. Elders are knowledge keepers, but they are also among the most vulnerable to COVID-19. The pandemic is threatening to cut a line of knowledge that has survived for generations. Fox reckons with this tension and her duty to sit with her auntie to document her stories before they are lost.  

2010, 40min

June 2010 marked the first national hearing of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, aimed at addressing the painful legacy of residential schools in Canada. First Nations, Métis and Inuit survivors began putting their stories on the official record as the Commission commenced its complex work. This collection of six documentaries from The National profiles Justice Murray Sinclair, Manitoba’s first Aboriginal judge and the head of the Commission; uncovers the personal stories of survivors both on the ground in Winnipeg and across Canada; and gets up-close with 11-year-old Wanekia Morning Star Cooke to hear the younger generation’s take on the residential school experience. 

2021, 29min

As the Chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Senator Murray Sinclair was a key figure in raising global awareness of the atrocities of Canada’s residential school system. With determination, wisdom and kindness, Senator Sinclair remains steadfast in his belief that the path to actual reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people requires understanding and accepting often difficult truths about Canada’s past and present. Alanis Obomsawin shares the powerful speech the Senator gave when he accepted the WFM-Canada World Peace Award, interspersing the heartbreaking testimonies of former students imprisoned at residential schools. The honouring of Senator Sinclair reminds us to honour the lives and legacies of the tens of thousands of Indigenous children taken from their homes and cultures, and leaves us with a profound feeling of hope for a better future.  

2016, 30min

This program examines the history, legacy and current impacts of the Residential School experience in Canada. From the establishment of the early Residential Schools to the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, this film shines a light into this dark chapter of Canadian history.    

Written and directed by multiple award winning Métis filmmaker Matt LeMay, this poignant documentary features interviews with Phil Fontaine, Shawn Atleo, Dr. Marie Wilson, Dr. Mike Degagne, and Martha Marsden.  

2017, 13min  

In 1963, Lena Wandering Spirit became one of the more than 150,000 Indigenous children who were removed from their families and sent to residential school. Jay Cardinal Villeneuve’s short documentary Holy Angels powerfully recaptures Canada’s colonialist history through impressionistic images and the fragmented language of a child. Villeneuve met Lena through his work as a videographer with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Filmed with a fierce determination to not only uncover history but move past it, Holy Angels speaks of the resilience of a people who have found ways of healing—and of coming home again.  

2008, 22min

This short documentary explores the legacy of residential schools through the eyes of two extraordinary women who not only lived it, but who, as adults, made the surprising decision to return to the school that had affected their lives so profoundly. This intimate and moving film affirms their strength and dignity in standing up and making a difference on their own terms.  

2015, 19min

This CBC documentary looks at how the Residential School system affected survivors, and their children and grandchildren through personal interviews.