2021: A Year in Review

Reconciliation is a collective journey with no clear endpoint and this year has further demonstrated how important that journey continues to be.

We would like to thank everyone who took reconciliACTION in 2021 and joined us on this journey to foster meaningful relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. Here is a snapshot of how we built awareness, education, and made connections to move reconciliation forward this year.

Taking Over National Airwaves: A Day to Listen

In recognition of National Indigenous History Month, DWF joined together with Bell Media, Corus Entertainment Inc., Rogers Sports & Media, Stingray Radio, and more in an unprecedented collaboration to amplify and learn from Indigenous voices with A DAY TO LISTEN.

On June 30, 2021, with more than 500 radio stations participating, DWF took over national airwaves to share stories from Indigenous leaders, residential school Survivors, Elders, artists, and teachers throughout the day.

The collaboration won Best Community Service Initiative at the Canadian Radio Awards.


198+ Teams Walked for Wenjack

October 21st, 2021, Grade 3 to 5 students at Yarmouth Elementary School in Southwest Nova Scotia participated in their first Walk for Wenjack.

This year, more than 198 teams across the country Walked for Wenjack, including students and educators from over 90 schools, with 27,040 total participants from all but two provinces and territories. Students learned about Chanie’s story and the residential school system and raised $117,185 between September 14, 2021 and November 1, 2021 – nearly doubling our $60,000 goal!


20+ Virtual Events as Part of Secret Path Week

With the help of our friends at Exploring by the Seat of your Pants, DWF hosted more than 20 virtual events throughout Secret Path Week and broadcasted in schools across the country. Over 91,000 youth registered for these educational events, which included interactive talks with First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Elders, leaders, artists, musicians and more.


‘Reconciliation Begins with You’ Video Series


Paddling on Both Sides by Blake Angeconeb

Beading Together by Corrina McKay

Snowshoe Teachings by Lucia Laford

We Need to Talk by Alina Pete

During Secret Path Week, DWF released four powerful videos from emerging Indigenous visual artists in collaboration with Justin Stephenson, director and animator of the Secret Path, and other artistic collaborators, including Buffy Sainte-Marie, Humble the Poet, Eekwol, and Isaac Murdoch. The Reconciliation Begins with You video series educates us and raises awareness of the need for reconciliation.


Legacy Schools Program Expanded

Our Legacy Schools Program expanded dramatically in 2021, with a total of 5245 active educators and 4438 schools and clubs involved across the country. We also distributed 1548 toolkits and 2698 boosters kits of new and updated resources to help educators continue engaging students and school staff about Indigenous Peoples, residential schools, and the true history of Canada.


Legacy Spaces Expanded

We have been so inspired by the ongoing commitment of our Legacy Spaces partners and are proud to announce that we have welcomed thirteen new organizations to the program since January! Here are just a few of the accomplishments from our partners in the last year:

  • IG Wealth Management was one of the first companies to create a Legacy Space, signing on in September of 2017. This year, they became the first partner to renew their five-year commitment to representing and celebrating Indigenous perspectives in their workplace. In honour of the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation, they hosted Perspectives on ReconciliACTION, a virtual event featuring Mike Downie, William Prince, Billy Alexander, and Lori Campbell.
  • From June to September of this year, Union Station hosted an exhibit in their West Wing concourse entitled Reconciliation Begins With You. The large-scale photography installation showcased DWF’s programming and events and was viewed by an estimated 200,000 travelers each day.
  • The Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre in Barrie, Ontario launched the first Legacy Space in a healthcare setting. Part of the Legacy Space installation is on wheels, allowing it to travel throughout the hospital to engage with visitors, staff, and patients.
  • The Legacy Space inside Halifax City Hall was the site of several meetings to discuss removing a local statue of Edward Cornwallis and the renaming of Cornwallis Park. The land was officially renamed ‘Peace and Friendship Park’ after local treaties and features the first sign in Halifax with Mi’kmaq translation and hieroglyphs.

We would like to officially welcome our newest Legacy Spaces partners, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and theturnlab!


15,284 Took the 215+ Pledge

This year, many people in Canada learned for the first time of the horrors of residential schools as news broke of the recovered remains of 215 children buried at the site of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School. Since then, many more graves have been recovered and more searches are underway. The number “215” is a symbol of the start of these recoveries and this movement.

In response, DWF launched the 215+ Pledge, which included reflections for the children who died in Canada’s residential schools, focused around the Five Stages of Grief.

15,284 people took the 215+ Pledge. The campaign included advocacy tools to engage your local Member of Parliament and elected officials, as well as curated recommended resources to continue your learning journey.

National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

In June, the federal government announced the creation of a new statutory holiday known as the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation to be recognized on September 30 each year. This day fulfills the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call-to-Action #80 and serves as a day of remembrance and reflection.

To recognize the day, DWF President and CEO, Sarah Midanik, hosted a discussion to explore this new day of reflection, what it  means for reconciliation in Canada, and how we can participate meaningfully.


Expanding the Artist Ambassadors Program

In 2019 we piloted the Artist Ambassador program with seven Artist Ambassador visits to high schools. July Talk’s Peter Dreimanis and Leah Fay as well as Tyler Shaw were some of the first who visited Carson Graham Secondary School in North Vancouver, BC and Tyler Shaw at Sir Fredrick Banting School in London, ON.

This year, the Legacy Schools High School Artist Ambassador program expanded to include over 70 artists, scientists, writers, and musicians. The program brings Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists into high schools across Canada to inspire leadership and promote the journey of reconciliation. Through their work, artists were able to engage students in conversations about reconciliation.


Building the Youth Ambassador Program

This year, DWF created the Youth Ambassador program in partnership with RBC Future Launch. Throughout the 4-week leadership training program, 50 Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth from across Canada gained practical work experience, learned about Canada’s true history with residential schools, and became champions of reconciliation in their communities. Check out this feature on CityNews!

Next summer, we’ll be expanding the program to 100 Youth. Keep an eye out in the new year on how to apply!