Orange Shirt Day & National Truth and Reconciliation Day
The below recounts residential schools, please read with care.
Residential schools were created to assimilate Indigenous children by removing them from their cultures, languages, families, and communities. September 30th acknowledges the over 160 years residential schools operated in Canada. It is a date to honour the children who attended these institutions, and the children who never returned home. Orange Shirt Day and National Truth and Reconciliation Day are for widespread public commemoration of the history of residential schools and for acknowledging Survivors, their families, and their communities. It is important to reflect on the history and the continued impact that exists as part of Canada’s residential school legacy.
Orange Shirt Day is a movement founded by Phyllis Webstad from the Stswecem’c Xgat’tem First Nation. In, 1973 when Phyllis was six years old, she was to attend the St. Joseph Indian Residential School. For her first day, Phyllis dressed in a brand-new orange shirt. But when she arrived at school Phyllis had all her clothing taken away – including her orange shirt. This became the memory that inspired Phyllis to create Orange Shirt Day. Wearing orange on September 30th memorializes the 150,000 First Nations, Métis, and Inuit children who attended residential schools. It is an acknowledgment of the loss of culture and freedom experienced by generations of Indigenous children. And, it is a symbol of solidarity, a commitment to ensure that Every Child Matters.
September 30, 2022, is also National Truth and Reconciliation Day. This statutory holiday was created in 2021 as recommended by Call to Action #80. The urgency for a day to acknowledge residential school Survivors was amplified by the unmarked graves found at residential schools across the country. This day is complex. It is an acknowledgment of the painful experience of residential school. It is also a day to reflect on our responsibility to reconciliation as we keep the lost children and Survivors in our hearts on this meaningful day and all days.
Please take space to reflect on the significance of this day, to honour the children who attended residential schools, and to acknowledge how colonization has impacted Indigenous peoples and communities.
- National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation
- Canada’s residential schools: the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada
- Orange Shirt Day
- National Film Board: Indigenous Voices and Reconciliation
To honour National Truth and Reconciliation Day, APTN will be airing 35 hours of special programming beginning at 7p.m on September 29th.