President’s Message

National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

Dear Members:
UBCP/ACTRA acknowledges and honours that from coast to coast, we are all standing on the traditional territory of the First Nations, Inuit, and Métis people. Our Union is committed to reconciliation in our industry and furthering our connection with the Indigenous communities across British Columbia. 
Today, Friday, September 30 marks the second National Day for Truth and Reconciliation across Canada. As you may already know, this special day was designated by the federal government as a statutory holiday, in response to one of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action. This observance is one step towards ensuring the ongoing reconciliation of the history and legacy of residential schools, which is a vital part of our healing process as a nation.

In recognition of this day, the UBCP/ACTRA office will be closed, as we reflect upon the history and trauma of residential schools in Canada, as well as honour those who were lost, and the survivors, families and communities who continue to grieve. 

September 30 is also Orange Shirt Day, an Indigenous-led commemorative day that opens the door to a global conversation on all aspects of residential schools.

There is a reason why truth comes before reconciliation. We need to first recognize the truth and the reality of the society we live in and the industry we work in before healing can happen.
The truth is that Indigenous people have been disadvantaged for centuries and that inequality created the deep divisions that exist and has poured into how we live and work today.
The truth is that we need to acknowledge the past and ongoing impacts of the residential school system on Indigenous Peoples, and the resulting generational trauma.
The truth is that we need to honour the Indigenous children who never returned home, as well as the survivors of residential schools and their families.
The truth is that more needs to be done to support Indigenous people and communities generally, as to date, only 13 of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action have been implemented.
The truth is that more needs to be done to foster the presence of Indigenous talent in front of and behind our screens.
This truth telling must continue, even though it is unsettling, upsetting, and causes us to examine Canada in a way we may not have done in the past. This is not to cause harm, to blame, or to elicit guilt, although these feelings may arise as a result. Truth telling helps to construct understanding and empathy around the trauma continuously experienced by Indigenous Peoples. Truth telling is also an essential element for the journey of restoring peace and reconciliation with one another.
In acknowledgement of these truths, reflection on the 94 Calls to Action and in the spirit of reconciliation, UBCP/ACTRA is currently in the process of creating an Indigenous Members’ Advisory Committee which will comprise of working, Indigenous, Full Members of the Union. The purpose of this Committee is to have an authentic representation of our Indigenous members that can provide critical recommendations to the Union’s Executive Board on how best to support this community in our membership, and Indigenous non-members. The committee will assist in advocacy for casting awareness for Indigenous inclusion. Our leadership team will also be partnering with this committee to strategically design, launch and maintain various initiatives for Indigenous development, the first of which will be our new Indigenous Member Development Fund, which was approved at our recent Annual General Meeting.
This Fund is dedicated towards fostering an industry that includes the “diverse cultures, languages, and perspectives of Aboriginal peoples”. It will help to find, nurture, and foster professional development of Indigenous talent, including the development of programs that ensure increased involvement in niche areas like stunt performing, as well as increase equitable access to jobs across the industry. It will also help to support mentorship and leadership development among Indigenous members as part of the succession planning for the Union’s Executive Board.
National Day for Truth and Reconciliation will serve as a yearly checkmark to assess our efforts towards these goals. It allows us to keep reconciliation as an active part of our strategic priorities as a union.

My hope is to see exponential growth in the roles for Indigenous members and for our Indigenous membership numbers. My hope is to attract Indigenous leaders to serve on our Executive Board. My hope is to continue the decolonization of our Board and staff, our operations, decision-making, and actions, which will allow us to implement new policies and practices that ensure UBCP/ACTRA is a safe, inclusive and supportive space for Indigenous performers.

As this federal holiday is meant to be a day of reflection on the history of Indian Residential Schools in Canada and to consider the ways in which reconciliation may be realized, we encourage the UBCP/ACTRA community to engage with the following list of resources to hold their own space for reflection:

The Residential Schools Crisis Line is available 24 hours a day for anyone experiencing pain or distress as a result of a residential school experience. Support is available at 1-866-925-4419.
In solidarity,

Ellie Harvie
President, UBCP/ACTRA