For the first time ever, the Government of Canada has declared this a federal statutory holiday to recognize the legacy of residential schools. In June of 2021 the Royal Asset was given to Bill C-3, one month after the finding of 215 remains from the Kamloops Residential School site. Federally regulated workplaces will be closed on this day, but provincial services may remain open. Certain Provinces have already declared or expressed how they will acknowledge the day. Be sure to check your Provincial information website for more information on how your province is acknowledging this day.
This day addresses number 80 of the 94 calls to action from the Truth & Reconciliation Commission of Canada. “We call upon the federal government, in collaboration with Aboriginal peoples, to establish, as a statutory holiday, a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation to honour survivors, their families, and communities, and ensure that public commemoration of the history and legacy of residential schools remains a vital component of the reconciliation process.”
This day is also known as Orange Shirt Day in taking a stand on every child matters. Orange Shirt Day was started by the legacy of the St. Joseph Mission (SJM) Residential School (1891-1981) Commemoration Project and Reunion events that took place in Williams Lake, BC, Canada, in May 2013. Orange Shirt Day is a legacy of this project. As spokesperson for the Reunion group leading up to the events, former student Phyllis (Jack) Webstad told her story of her first day at residential school when her shiny new orange shirt, bought by her grandmother, was taken from her as a six-year old girl. The date was chosen because it is the time of year in which children were taken from their homes to residential schools, and because it is an opportunity to set the stage for anti-racism and anti-bullying policies for the coming school year.
Below is the official website, to support the Orange Shirt Day. Their website also features more helpful information, resources, and an official list of orange shirt suppliers:
If you are in the market to shop for an orange shirt, please be sure to check that the business or organization is 100% in support of the Orange Shirt Society or Residential School Survivors, before you place your order. In recent light of the Orange Shirt Day campaign, there have been many businesses that have been producing orange shirts that are not supporting Residential School Initiatives.
As this is a very sensitive topic, and with all the recent Residential School findings happening though out Canada you may be wondering how you can acknowledge and show your support for this day. Here is a list of ways to guide you:
- Wear your orange shirt
- Have a moment of reflection
- Watch a documentary on Residential Schools
- Participate in a community event
- Listen to a podcast, YouTube video, of a Residential School Survivors Story
- Read a book related to Indigenous History, see our blog post: https://ravenreads.org/blogs/news/canadian-history-books-by-indigenous-authors
- Participate in online events hosted by the TRC: https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/truth-and-reconciliation-week-tickets-153491752965
- Read the 94 Call to Actions report: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/british-columbians-our-governments/indigenous-people/aboriginal-peoples-documents/calls_to_action_english2.pdf
- Visit the TRC Website: https://nctr.ca
- Spread Awareness by posting on social media using: #everychildmatters #orangeshirtday #NationalTRW
If you need assistance a toll free 24 hour help line is available:
Support for Residential School Survivors & Their Families
National Residential School Crisis Line 1-866-925-4419