“Orange Shirt Day” in Canada

My colleague Seema Ahluwalia of Kwantlen‘s Sociology department has given me permission to share this:

The Kwantlen Faculty Association (KFA) acknowledges the underlying title and inherent rights of self-determination of Indigenous peoples, and our presence as uninvited guests in the traditional and unceded territories of the xwmƏθkwəyə̓ m (Musqueam), qi̓ cə̓ y̓ (Katzie), SEYMONE (Semiahmoo), scə̓ waθən (Tsawwassen), qiqéyt (Qayqayt), and kwikwəƛə̓ m (Kwikwetlem); and qw̓ ɑ:nƛ̓ ə̓ n̓ (Kwantlen) Peoples. 

The truth is we must learn from and alongside Indigenous Peoples in order to make things right. 

September 30 was chosen as “Orange Shirt Day” by Indigenous people in 2013 to commemorate and honor the survivors of The Indian Residential School System (IRSS) and those who never returned home. At this time of year, over the course of more than 100 years, Indigenous children were forced to return to IRSS institutions where they were targeted for indoctrination and torture organized by the Canadian state to weaken and destroy Indigenous nations. In 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) recommended that the Canadian government establish a statutory holiday so that Canadians may never forget the history and ongoing legacy of the IRSS. September 30 is now also Canada’s National Day of Truth and Reconciliation. 

In solidarity with Indigenous Peoples, we mourn the loss of the children who did not make it home and honor the courageous survivors and their allies who worked for decades to break the walls of silence and denial surrounding the IRSS. On this day of solemn reflection, we acknowledge that racism and religious persecution were used to dispossess Indigenous peoples of their territories, and that we must educate ourselves about the ongoing and current impacts of colonization and genocide on Indigenous peoples. We must do the urgent work of ending systemic racism by engaging in a meaningful process of reconciliation with Indigenous peoples that leads to decolonization. 

Many Indigenous leaders have warned that “reconciliation” has stalled and advised that Indigenous perspectives must be employed to understand the critical issues impacting Indigenous peoples. Canadians must ask ourselves how we are holding our governments, associations, and ourselves accountable for the work that must be done and transform our talk into action.  

On September 30, we encourage Canadians to learn, reflect, and act.

Here are some resources that you may find useful:  

Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: 94 Calls to Action 

Calls to Action Accountability: A 2022 Status Update on Reconciliation 

Indigenous Watchdog

Orange Shirt Society

Semiahmoo First Nation 3rd Annual Walk for Truth & Reconciliation: Sept 30, 2023 

National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation: Lunch and Learn Webinars, Sept 25 – 29

Sign CLC’s petition “Justice for First Nations’, Inuit, and Metis is Long Overdue” 

BCFED Reconciliation Plan Framework


UFCW: Indigenous Rights and the Workplace Bargaining Guide

Support Services and Resources

Indian Residential School Survivors’ Society:  Toll-Free Line 1 800 721 0066  

Indian Residential School Crisis Line: (604) 985-4464 

Hope For Wellness: Toll-Free Line 1 (855) 242-3310 

Metis Crisis Line: 1 (833) 638-4722 

KUU-US Crisis Line: 1 800 588 8717  

Tsow-Tun-Le Lum: 1 866 925 4419 

First Nations Health Authority Mental Health Benefit 

First Nations Health Authority Mental Health Benefit 

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