September 29, 2022 – Ottawa, ON: Tomorrow is the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and Orange Shirt Day, which takes place on September 30th every year. The day honours the lost children and Survivors of residential schools, their families and communities.

“Tomorrow, I encourage dentists and other members of the oral health community to reflect on the tragic and painful legacy of residential schools, and to honour the thousands of Survivors,” says Dr. Lynn Tomkins, CDA president. “Acknowledging this day gives us an opportunity to learn, read, listen, or watch, and to reflect on the importance of Indigenous history and culture.”

Inequities in oral health continue to exist between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Peoples to this day. CDA has been advocating for the improvement of the oral health of Canada’s First Nations for 35 years, including investments in enhancing access to dental care and clean water in Indigenous communities. CDA has also been collaborating with federal officials administering the dental component of the Non-Insured Health Benefits (NIHB) Program to provide technical advice on the NIHB program’s administration. In May 2022, CDA participated in a study on the Accessibility and Administration of the NIHB program by the House of Commons’ Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs, and provided a series of recommendations with a goal of improving Indigenous oral health outcomes.

“Not only on September 30th, but every day throughout the year, it is important to seek out opportunities to partner with Indigenous communities and advance reconciliation,” adds Dr. Tomkins. “Wearing an orange t-shirt, pin, or other items purchased from a local Indigenous business is one way how we can demonstrate a unified step towards reconciliation and help show support for Indigenous Peoples. We must acknowledge the truth of residential schools in Canada, honour the Survivors, and remember the thousands of children who never returned home.”

Orange Shirt Day is held around the time when Indigenous children would have been taken from their homes to residential schools each fall. It is an Indigenous-led grassroots commemorative day intended to raise awareness of the individual, family and community inter-generational impacts of residential schools, and to promote the concept of “Every Child Matters.” To find out more about how you can start or supplement your education on the history of residential schools, visit the Government of Canada’s official page, and join the conversation on social media by using the hashtag #NDTR. For emotional support on this matter, please contact the 24-Hour Residential School Crisis Line at 1-866-925-4419.

About the Canadian Dental Association
The Canadian Dental Association (CDA) is the national voice for dentistry dedicated to the promotion of optimal oral health, an essential component of general health, and to the advancement and leadership of a unified profession. CDA, a non-regulatory authority, is a federally incorporated not-for-profit organization whose corporate members are Canada's provincial and territorial dental associations (PTDAs). CDA represents over 21,000 practising dentists from coast to coast to coast.

Media Contact:
Zelda Burt
Head of Communications
Canadian Dental Association