Orange Shirt Day | September 29, 2021

What is Orange Shirt Day?

In the spring of 2013, Phyllis Webstad – a residential school survivor – first shared her story at a St. Joseph Mission Residential School Commemoration Project and Reunion event held in Williams Lake, British Columbia. Phyllis recounted her first day of residential schooling at six years old, when her new orange shirt—bought by her grandmother—was taken away from her. Phyllis’s story inspired Orange Shirt Day as an annual event. Between the late 1800s and 1996, more than 150,000 First Nations, Métis and Inuit children were taken to residential schools and Orange Shirt Day commemorates this legacy. In the spirit of Truth and Reconciliation, we encourage you to observe September 30th with an open heart. We acknowledge that this year has seen many triggering news stories about former residential school sites, and it is a stark reminder there is still much work to do. Every. Child. Matters.

Please note that Camosun College is observing Orange Shirt Day on Wednesday, September 29th as the college will be closed on September 30th so that our community can reflect, learn, and attend community events in light of the federally announced stat holiday. The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation stat is a direct response from the government to one of the TRC calls to action, although we recognize that we all have long to go on the path to both truth and reconciliation.

What Can I Do?

Tomorrow, September 29, please wear an orange shirt to show your commitment to reconciliation and to support the survivors of the residential school system and their kin.
Please remember that it is not Indigenous people’s responsibility to teach anyone about the residential school system. This is potentially a very triggering and traumatizing topic and we kindly remind our members that education is widely available and offered, both within the college and from other sources. Please view this list for a variety of sources:

Community Supports/Outreach

  • Residential Schools Crisis Line. Their mandate is to support residential school survivors and their families but their policy is not to turn anyone away. 1-866-925-4419
  • Kids Help Phone, an anonymous and confidential phone and on-line professional counselling service for youth. 1-800-668-6868
  • Eyēʔ Sqȃ’lewen/IECC – Camosun’s Indigenous Education & Community Connections are dedicated to quality education and serve Indigenous students and communities. 250-370-3299 or 250-370-4870
  • Island Community Mental Health. 250-389-1211
  • Victoria Native Friendship Center. 250-384-3211
  • Songhees Wellness Centre. 250-386-1043 ext. 313