National Day for Truth & Reconciliation

Quick Facts

AKA NameOrange Shirt Day
2024 DateSeptember 30, 2024
2025 DateSeptember 30, 2025

National Day for Truth & Reconciliation (Orange Shirt Day)

National Day for Truth & Reconciliation (Orange Shirt Day) in

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National Day for Truth & Reconciliation History

National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, also known as Orange Shirt Day, serves as a reminder of the painful historical legacy faced by Indigenous children in residential schools. The day is marked with thoughtful reflection on the collective responsibility to acknowledge and understand this dark chapter in Canadian history. It provides an opportunity for Canadians to come together in solidarity, joining Indigenous peoples in their ongoing journey of healing, and to reaffirm their commitment to truth, reconciliation, and a stronger relationship based on mutual respect and understanding.

The origins of Orange Shirt Day can be traced back to the story of Phyllis Webstad, a residential school survivor, who wore an orange shirt on her first day at St. Joseph Mission Residential School in 1973, only to have it taken away. The shirt, as it turned out, became symbolic of the loss of identity, culture, and language of Indigenous children in these residential schools. National Day for Truth and Reconciliation encourages Canadians to reflect on the devastating impact of these schools, the resilience of Indigenous communities, and the importance of human rights, compassion, and social justice in creating an inclusive society, where every individual is treated with dignity and respect.

On this day, people across Canada participate in various activities to raise awareness about the history of residential schools, to honor the survivors and their families, and to express their commitment to reconciliation. Some of the typical customs include wearing an orange shirt, participating in community events and discussions, and educating oneself on the truths about Canada's colonial past. National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is generally observed on September 30th, symbolically marking the time when Indigenous children were historically taken away from their families to attend residential schools.

Top facts about National Day for Truth & Reconciliation

  • Between 1891 and 1981 the federal government forced many indigenous children to attend schools away from their families. Many were abused and forbidden from practising their own culture.
  • It is estimated that at least 3,000 children died while attending the government and church run residential schools between 1891 and 1981.
  • Indigenous students tend to have lower scores in standardized tests and lower overall academic achievement compared to their non-Indigenous peers.
  • The orange shirt symbolizes the experiences of Indigenous children who were forcibly taken from their homes to attend residential schools. It represents the harm caused by these institutions and the loss of cultural identity experienced by the children.
  • Indigenous students may have unique learning styles and preferences rooted in traditional teachings and ways of knowing, which differ from mainstream Western educational approaches.

Top things to do for National Day for Truth & Reconciliation

  • Donate to the Orange Shirt Society and help support indigenous communities.
  • Check out upcoming Orange Day events.
  • Watch the 2020 Orange Shirt Day presentation.
  • Watch We Were Children (2012). This is a documentary that features chilling firsthand accounts of survivors of the Indian Residential School system in Canada.

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