September 30, 2021 marks the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in Canada, honouring lost and surviving Indigenous children of residential schools, their families and communities.
On this day, Canadians are encouraged to wear orange t-shirts or anything orange to raise awareness of the tragic legacy of residential schools in Canada. Many teachers, staff and students at ILAC will be wearing orange to show our support of Canada’s First Peoples.
Residential schools were government-sponsored religious schools that were created to assimilate Indigenous children into Euro-Canadian culture.
Between 1831 and 1998, an estimated 150,000 First Nation, Inuit, and Métis children were forcibly taken from their families and communities. The trauma of separation and the many children that did not survive has had a lasting negative impact on Indigenous people in Canada.
The orange shirt is in memory of Phyllis Webstad, a Northern Secwpemc (Shuswap) from the Stswecem’c Xgat’tem First Nation. She arrived on her first day of school dressed in a new orange shirt, which was immediately taken from her. Today it is a symbol of the stripping away of culture, freedom and self-esteem experienced by Indigenous children over generations.
Listen to Phyllis Webstad’s story told in her own words and learn more about the rich and diverse cultures, voices, experiences and stories of Canada’s First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples by visiting National Day for Truth and Reconciliation – Canada.ca
Want to learn more? Check out these additional resources to help you commemorate #OrangeShirtDay:
- Assembly of First Nations Toolkit on Residential Schools
- National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation
- Learn how the Government of Canada is delivering on Truth and Reconciliation Committee Calls to Action