What is Orange Shirt Day?

September 30 is Orange Shirt Day, a day that recognizes the harm Canada’s residential school system inflicted on Indigenous children and their families, and the ongoing trauma that remains today.  It is a day to remember and honour the life of every child.

The goal of Orange Shirt Day is to create awareness of the individual, family and community inter-generational impacts of Indian Residential Schools through Orange Shirt Day activities, and to promote the concept of Every Child Matters.

The Orange Shirt Society was formed in Williams Lake, British Columbia by the founders of Orange Shirt Day to encourage and support communities to recognize Orange Shirt Day and to support reconciliation events and activities.

Phyllis Webstad’s experience at the Mission school in the 1970s inspired Orange Shirt Day. Phyllis is Northern Secwpemc (Shuswap) from the Stswecem’c Xgat’tem First Nation (Canoe Creek Indian Band). She comes from mixed Secwepemc and Irish/French heritage, was born in Dog Creek, and lives in Williams Lake, BC. Phyllis continues to tell her story, touring Canada and raising awareness. She has published two books, the "Orange Shirt Story" and "Phyllis's  Orange Shirt" for younger children.

This is a non-exhaustive list of resources. If there are resources we should include, please contact Janessa Good and we will be happy to include them. Thank you for contributing to this content.

Support:

National Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line (1-866-925-4419) provides immediate emotional support for former Indian Residential School students. Available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Resources:

Books:

Films:

Exhibitions:

  • A National Crime: Canada’s Indian Residential School. The Legacy of Hope is a national, Indigenous-led, charitable organization that works to promote healing and Reconciliation in Canada. Its goal is to educate and raise awareness about the history and existing intergenerational impacts of the Residential School System and subsequent Sixties Scoop on First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Survivors, their descendants, and their communities to promote healing and Reconciliation. While their in-person exhibits are limited due to the current COVD19 pandemic, some of their exhibits are digitally available.

Podcasts:

Art Installations

  • The Witness Blanket: a national monument to recognise the atrocities of the Indian Residential School era, honour the children, and symbolise ongoing reconciliation.
  • There is Truth Here: Creativity and Resilience in Children’s Art from Indian Residential and Day Schools - While this exhibit was only available in person until January 2020, some of the art can still be seen on the virtual exhibition page.
  • Christi Belcourt is a Métis visual artist and author from the Métis historic community of Lac Ste. Anne, Alberta. Christie was commissioned to create a stained glass window in Centre Block of Parliament was commissioned to recognize the survivors of Indian Residential Schools and their families, as well as the Prime Minister’s historic Apology in 2008. On Monday, November 26, 2012 the stained glass piece titled “Giniigaaniimenaaning” was installed and unveiled in Ottawa.

  • R.G. Miller was born in 1950 on the Six Nations Mohawk Reserve in Brantford Ontario. At the age of two he was taken from his Longhouse family and his community. Miller spent eleven years (1953-1964) in the Mohawk Institute and uses his art to tell the story of what happened to him and others within the residential school.

Virtual Tour on Orange Shirt Day