A movement that began with a single individual donating a day’s worth of pay on National Day for Truth and Reconciliation has now raised more than $423,000.
One Day’s Pay began after Vancouver resident Joshua Hensman said he felt “conflicted” being paid for a “holiday” intended to honour and celebrate Indigenous peoples.
He decided to donate his earnings to organizations that support First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples, and with five friends, launched a campaign encouraging others to do the same.
“I’m definitely astounded by this,” Hensman told Global News, as the campaign heads into its final week of fundraising. “I had an amazing team.”
The public can donate to One Day’s Pay until Oct. 12.
All proceeds have already gone to, and will continue to go to, the Indian Residential School Survivors Society, the Orange Shirt Day/Every Child Matters Society, and the National Association of Friendship Centres.
“I think what was learned is that people are really ready to engage and do something tangible,” said Hensman.
To help guide the campaign, One Day’s Pay partnered up with The Circle on Philanthropy and Aboriginal Peoples in Canada, an Indigenous-led organization that helps mobilize the “settler philanthropic sector.”
These partnerships, said Hensman, are part of what he believes led to the campaign’s sweeping success.
“I would say that one person can only make a difference when they’re connecting and engaging with other people,” he explained.
“I certainly don’t take any personal credit for this.”
Hensman and the team have decided to bring the campaign back next year, ahead of Canada’s second annual National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
No one from The Circle was available to comment on this story on Monday, but on Twitter, Kris Archie, CEO of The Circle, called the campaign “a start toward cash back.”
“I’ve been thankful to connect with & have our team @TheCircleCanada work alongside the folks like Josh, Katrina, Jess & others as they work to mobilize settles to think & do differently,” she wrote (sic).
“By giving, by learning, by doing … the @GiveOneDaysPay ask is incredibly simple – Reflect then Act – share & amplify their ask with others, have conversations with your family, coworkers and faith communities and most importantly – GIVE ABUNDANTLY.”
Angela White, executive director of the Indian Residential School Survivors Society, said the One Day’s Pay campaign is a “step in the right direction” for those who want to contribute financially to reconciliation.
“I think everything that has positive intentions behind it is a step in the right direction, no matter how grand a gesture or how small a gesture,” she told Global News.
“We create caviar programs out of bologna budgets, so … if people really want to put toward a reconciliation act, it’s finding those organizations, those communities that are local, and doing your research, finding out what their mission, what their mandates are, and finding out if that’s an organization they can get behind.”
To take it step further, she added, folks can research residential schools, read the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s report, educate themselves on the Indian Act and its consequences, and share their knowledge with others.
“There’s so many young kids out there that are so well-educated on this subject now that they’re teaching their parents,” White explained.
“Make it a family discussion so that we’re not moving backwards but moving these tiny steps forward.”
White also encouraged Canadians to stand up to injustice and disinformation when they see it because “there’s only so much Indigenous people can do in correcting those wrongs.”