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September 30 is Orange Shirt Day. Here’s How You Can Participate.

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

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