September 30th marks Orange Shirt Day and the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in Canada.
This day honours the many Indigenous children who did not return home and the survivors of residential schools. In tandem is Orange Shirt Day, an Indigenous-led movement which strives to raise awareness of the community and inter-generational impacts of residential schools, with the message that Every Child Matters.
The History Of Orange Shirt Day & The National Day of Truth and Reconciliation
In 2021, The Canadian Government officially declared September 30th as the annual “National Day for Truth and Reconciliation” Day. This day is an opportunity to commemorate and learn about the appalling truth of residential schools, where more than 150,000 First Nations, Métis, and Inuit children were forced to attend between 1870 and the 1990s. Residential schools were started by the Canadian government and Catholic Churches with the premise to educate Indigenous children.
The reality, however, was extremely different and very dire. These residential schools taught Indigenous students very basic education with the main focus on prayer, manual labour, woodworking, and domestic work. The school forcibly separated these children from their families and communities while depriving them of their Indigenous heritage and culture by forbidding them to speak their languages. Children were severely punished if these, among other, strict rules were broken.
Orange shirt day also happens on September 30th. Orange shirt day was started in 2013 inspired by Phyllis Jack Webstad, a residential school survivor who recounted how on her first day at school, she was stripped of her clothing, including an orange shirt that was gifted by her grandmother. Phyllis was just six years old. To reclaim this negative experience, an Indigenous-led movement began with people wearing orange shirts to recognize the history and commit that Every Child Matters.
Why September 30th?
September 30th was chosen as this was the day when Indigenous children were taken from their loved ones to attend residential schools.
What Can You Do To Support
Reconciliation and solidity are important for every Canadian through the acceptance of history and ensuring the past is never repeated. There are many ways that Canadians can support, through respecting Indigenous treaties and rights and working on ridding negative perceptions.
You may wish to:
- Educate yourself by reading Truth and Reconciliation Commission
- Learn about residential schools and take a tour of former sites
- Research First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples to understand their history and contributions
- Understand and respect treaties
- Buy an orange shirt directly from an Indigenous artist or company that supports Indigenous causes
- Wear orange on September 30 for Orange Shirt Day
- Watch films and documentaries about the residential school experience
- Learn greetings and phrases in Indigenous languages
- Donate to causes such as Reconciliation Canada, The Indian Residential School Survivors Society, Legacy of Hope, Orange Shirt Society and/or First Nations Child and Family Caring Society
- Read “The Orange Shirt”
- Take part in the 2022 Webcast
The Playful Peacock stands firmly in solidarity with Orange Shirt Day and National Day of Truth and Reconciliation Day. We acknowledge the disturbing history and believe as Canadians we can all work for a more just future for all Indigenous peoples. While September 30th is important, we must dismantle and rebuild oppression through an ongoing, daily commitment toward reconciliation in Canada.