CFL teams to mark National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

The Canadian Football League (CFL) and its teams will join Canadians in recognizing and confirming the tragic history and ongoing legacy of residential schools in the days surrounding the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on September 30.

“The suffering of Indigenous families whose children were forced to attend residential schools, the continuing legacy of those experiences, and the trauma their memory triggers to this day, need to be recognized and confirmed by us all,” said CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie in a press release.

“We can only build a stronger Canada together if we build a more informed, a more aware and a more just Canada together.”

In the days leading up to and following September 30, CFL teams will engage in activities that include seminars for employees, game day ceremonies, in-stadium videos, moments of silence and the wearing of special orange jerseys during team warm-ups. They have been consulting with local Indigenous communities on how to confirm the tragedy.

The CFL also plans to feature a virtual on-field image that depicts an Every Child Matters logo during games. On-field officials will wear orange pins recognizing the Every Child Matters movement. And the league office will host an awareness event for staff.

Canada’s Parliament passed legislation last June to recognize September 30 as the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, a federal statutory holiday. The designated holiday for federal employees addresses one of the 94 calls to action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), which issued its final report on the residential schools tragedy in 2015.

Based on interviews with more than 6,000 witnesses, the Commission said the residential schools policy, which forced Indigenous children to leave their families and communities to attend residential schools, amounted to cultural genocide and is inseparable from the present day problems that Indigenous peoples face, from high rates of poverty, suicide and incarceration to the loss of Indigenous lands and traditions.

The TRC’s Missing Children Project has documented more than 4,100 deaths in the schools, but it has been reported the full toll could be as high as 6,000, given huge gaps in available records.

“The CFL and its teams would like to thank the Indigenous leaders, communities and individuals who have been working with us,” Ambrosie said. “And we thank them, and our fans, for participating with us in these important activities.”

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