Orange Shirt Day
Orange shirt day is held annually on September 30th in remembrance of residential school victims; mourning those who never made it home, honouring the healing of survivors and their families, and raising awareness about the residential school system in Canada.
Why Orange? A Brief History
Inspired by a true story: Phyllis Webstad
“September 30th has been declared Orange Shirt Day annually, in recognition of the harm the residential school system did to children’s sense of self-esteem and well being, and as an affirmation of our commitment to ensure that everyone around us matters.”
Phyllis was only 6 years old when she first attended residential school. Excited to go to school, her grandmother was able to afford a brand new shirt for her so she chose a bright, beautiful orange shirt.
The day she arrived at residential school, the school staff stripped her, cut her hair, and she never saw her orange shirt again. As a young girl, she didn’t understand why it was taken from her and she always remembered how she felt unseen, worthless, and how no one seemed to care.
Today, Phyllis’s orange shirt is an annual symbol of residential schools: the survivors, loved ones lost, and the trauma that Indigenous people have endured for generations.
By acknowledging the past can we move forward.
The trauma caused by residential schools cannot be erased quickly. As allies, we must educate ourselves and do our part to help.
Harvard Media is dedicated to understanding residential schools, their impact, and the actions in the Truth and Reconciliation report. We made a financial contribution to the Indian Residential School Survivors Society and will actively engage in meaningful conversations about how we can help.
In this list of resources, you will find places to listen, learn, and engage in conversations to deepen your own understanding of our Indigenous communities.
As part of the Hill Companies, we will be recognizing September 30 as an annual statutory holiday to honour Survivors, their families, and Indigenous communities; to listen, learn, read, and understand the complex history of our nation.
Truth & Reconciliation Call to Action #80.
Commitment to Learning
Knowledge is the first step in understanding our allyship. Here are some resources we are using – you should use them too!
June – National Indigenous History Month
June 21 – National Indigenous Peoples Day
August 9 – International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples
September 30 – National Day For Truth and Reconciliation
The National Centre of Truth and Reconciliation has made available several documents, legislation, and reports outlining critical information about Indigenous residential schools, government policies, and information for healing.
They are available to view or purchase here: https://nctr.ca/records/reports/
This Every Child Matters publication was written by award-winning, Indigenous author Monique Gray Smith. Accompanied by supplementary educational resources in English or French, this package is perfect for grades 5-12.
Talking to children about residential schools can be intimidating, here are some resources to help them understand the history.
Here are some local events happening in our communities.
Orange Shirt Day – September 30. Wear an orange shirt in solidarity with residential school survivors. If you can, purchase from a local Indigenous artist or a local business with proceeds going to Indigenous communities.
We encourage you to participate safely, respecting COVID protocols and mandates in your area. Please wear a mask and social distance.
University of Saskatchewan buildings will be lit up orange in the evenings and TRC calls to action are being projected onto the Peter MacKinnon building and main library. You can also tie orange ribbons around campus.
Saskatoon Public Library: Orange Shirt Storytime starts a conversation about residential schools with children ages 5-8. Virtual – Facebook & YouTube.
Light the Bridge: Edmonton’s High-Level Bridge will be lit in orange to recognize the day and encourage the city to reflect upon the legacy of residential schools.
Roots for Trees Plant Giveaway: Root for Trees will be giving away trees, shrubs, and wildflowers as a way to honour the victims, families, friends, and intergenerational survivors.
Regina Public Library: Genocidal Love, the story of Myrtle battling to recover her voice featuring Bevann Fox.
Regina Public Library Truth and Reconciliation Book Club: Meeting Sept 29, Oct 27, and Nov 24.
Victoria Park: At noon, an elder and drum group will share messages of hope and reconciliation.
Red Deer, AB
Orange Ribbon Campaign: Residents are encouraged to pick up an orange ribbon and tie it to a tree or plant in place that is meaningful to them.
Learn by Doing
Here are things you can do to engage in Truth and Reconciliation
1. Review the Truth and Reconciliation reports.
2. Practice compassion as Indigenous communities continue to heal.
3. Educate yourself about residential schools and their impact on Indigenous peoples (see above resources).
4. Support Indigenous businesses and artists in your community!
5. Donate to Indigenous organizations working to eradicate poverty and racism.
6. Call on your local elected representatives to take action.
7. Amplify Indigenous voices.
8. Learn about the history of the land you live on.
Like & Follow
These organizations and foundations are dedicated to sharing quality Indigenous content. Consider following them for an Indigenous perspective on life, news, and more.
Have More to Add?
Do you have more resources to share? Tell us in the comments and we’ll add them to our list!