On September 30, we mark Orange Shirt Day, an Indigenous-led grassroots initiative, as well as Canada’s National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. We reflect, remember, and honour the survivors and victims of Canada’s residential school system, and work towards improving reconciliation efforts for all Indigenous peoples.
After the devastating discovery of the remains of 215 children at the Kamloops residential school in May 2021, more than 10,000 unmarked graves have been discovered at former residential schools across the country. Since then, the country has continued to grapple with the horrors committed against Indigenous peoples. This year, Pope Francis apologized for the Catholic Church’s role in these atrocities, and then traveled to Canada on an apology tour, which was received with mixed reaction by Indigenous communities.
According to Yellowhead Institute, three new calls to action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission have been completed, which is encouraging but still leaves dozens more to be addressed.
This year on Orange Shirt Day, settlers have an opportunity to learn or reflect on the history of this land we share. Many Indigenous communities still deal with the consequences of colonialism from a lack of necessities like clean water to the environmental devastation from industry groups. While some actions need to be taken by various levels of government, there’s work that we settlers can do, too. Take a look at our actionable list below, and let’s all remember that reconciliation efforts are only effective if they happen year round.
For 24-hour crisis support for former Indian Residential School students and their families, the toll-free crisis line is 1-866-925-4419.
How to Participate in Orange Shirt Day
- Take the free online Indigenous Canada course offered by the University of Alberta
- Explore CBC’s Beyond 94 to learn about the progress of the 94 Calls to Action
- Hear from survivor, Phyllis Webstad, about the residential school system
- Participate in the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation online programming from September 27th to October 1st
- Read A Knock on the Door: The Essential History of Residential Schools from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada by Phil Fontaine, Aimée Craft, The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada
- On the day, watch CBC’s commercial-free programming honouring stories of survivors
- Learn about whose land you are on
- Amplify Indigenous voices in your community and industry
- Settlers Take Action (resources compiled by The On Canada Project)
- 94 recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Committee
- Calls to Action Accountability: A 2020 Status Update on Reconciliation
- Legacy of Hope Foundation
- Toronto Indigenous Harm Reduction
- Toronto Council Fire Native Cultural Centre
- Native Women’s Association of Canada
- Native Canadian Centre of Toronto
- Indian Residential School Survivors Society
- Buy an orange shirt from an Indigenous designer and/or official organizations that gives proceeds to survivors and reconciliation efforts. Every child matters.