Orange Shirt Day is about recognizing and reflecting on the harm of the Canadian residential school system. It grew out of Phyllis (Jack) Webstad’s story of having her shiny new orange shirt taken away on her first day of school at St. Joseph Mission Residential School. The date for Orange Shirt Day was chosen because it is the time of year in which Indigenous children were taken from their homes to residential schools.
You can take part in Orange Shirt Day by:
- Wearing an Orange Shirt on September 30th
- Organizing or participating in an event
- Join the Round Dance at 1pm, Portage and Main
- Learning the shared colonial history of what we now call Canada
- Learning about local Indigenous history, culture, ceremony and world views
- Ask your schools and teachers to incorporate Indigenous perspectives into your education
- Start or continue the work of reconciliation and decolonization through education, ally-ship or reclaiming of your knowledge, culture and rights
Reconciliation is a pretty big idea. It happens in big ways through demanding changes in government actions or with how and what schools teach and in small ways through the actions we personally take. A road map of 94 recommendations has been set out by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). The TRC was developed as a way to heal and move forward from our shared history of residential schools. This road map will take more than one generation to fully realize reconciliation. There is a lot of healing and learning that needs to happen first.
We’ve never done reconciliation before, so sometimes it can be hard to imagine. There will be moments where people stumble or try something that doesn’t work, but the important thing is to stay committed to working together. A good starting place for reconciliation is through education.