Sept. 30 is the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

September 27, 2021

For the first time this year, the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation (also known as Orange Shirt Day) will become a Canadian statutory holiday. Marked on September 30, the day was created as an observance in 2013 — a  vision of  Esketemc (Alkali Lake) Chief Fred Robbins, a former student of the St. Joseph Mission Residential School in Williams Lake, BC. The day is designed to educate people and promote awareness in Canada about the Indian residential school system and the impact it has had on Indigenous communities for more than a century—an impact recognized as a cultural genocide, and one that continues today, especially in view of the recent discoveries of unmarked graves on the sites of residential schools in Canada.

The term Orange Shirt Day came from the experience of then-six-year-old Phyllis Webstad who had gone to the Mission, B.C. residential school in 1973 wearing a brand new bright orange T-shirt from her grandmother. When Webstad arrived at the school, educators forced her to remove the clothing in favour of the mandatory uniform. For more information about fighting racism, see Vol. 15, No. 3 of the Children’s Mental Health Research Quarterly.