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.
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Referenceswww.orangeshirtday.org: Orange Shirt Day www.orangeshirtday.org: History of Orange Shirt Day www.thestar.com: National Holiday