Orange Shirt Day, now a federal holiday called the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, is held annually on September 30 in Canadian communities. On this day people are encouraged to wear an orange shirt and to participate in activities to promote awareness of the residential school experience and the impact it has had on Indigenous communities for over a century, to witness and honour the healing journey of the survivors and their families, and to commit to the ongoing process of reconciliation. It is a day for survivors to be reaffirmed that they matter, and so do those that have been affected. Every Child Matters, even if they are an adult, from now on.
The day is a 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. 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.
Indigenous Ministries supports the Indigenous Peoples of Canada (First Nations, Inuit, and Métis) spiritually, socially, economically and politically, recognizing that the purity of the land base provides for all our needs. As active participants in the life of the church, they strive for reconciliation with the Anglican Communion and work towards Indigenous self-determination.
The Government of Canada has recently passed legislation to make September 30th a federal statutory holiday called the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. This has been enacted to help ensure that the tragic history and ongoing legacy of residential schools is never forgotten and provide federal public servants an opportunity to reflect on this.