Orange Shirt Day and the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is a time to remember and honour lives lost due to residential schools. The Ottawa Catholic School Board’s Indigenous Education Department has curated resources to help students, staff, and the community commemorate Orange Shirt Day at their #ocsbReconciliAction website.
On their website, you can also find a list of in-class activities and events planned for OCSB students from September 26 to September 30. Our students have been actively engaged in activities including reading books by Indigenous authors, learning about Indigenous culture, displaying welcoming signs outside of our schools, and purchasing orange shirts with designs by Indigenous artists to prepare for Orange Shirt Day.
What is Orange Shirt Day?
Orange Shirt Day is inspired by Phyllis (Jack) Webstad, a residential school survivor. As a young child, Phyllis lived on Dog Creek reserve. To make her first day at Mission school more tolerable, her grandmother bought her a new orange shirt to wear to school. When she arrived at school, they took her beautiful orange shirt away, and she was forced to dress like everyone else at the school, stripping her of her identity.
Phyllis Webstad has shared her story with Canadians from coast to coast. The pain of losing her precious orange shirt has resonated with young and old. Today the orange shirt has become a symbol of unity against the harm residential schools caused Indigenous people living in Canada.Check out OCSB’s Orange Shirt Day Resource Package to learn more about the day’s history, and don’t forget to wear something orange on September 30!
Mental Health Supports for Residential School Survivors and their Families
As we commemorate Orange Shirt Day and the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on September 30, we recognize that everyone’s journey is different. While non-indigenous communities within Canada continue to learn more about Truth and Reconciliation, many residential school survivors are continuing on their difficult journey of healing.
Anyone experiencing pain or distress from their Residential school experience can reach out to the Residential School Survivors and Family Crisis Line at 1-800-721-0066. This service is available 24 hours a day, and you can find more information about the program at the First Nations Health Authority website.
First Nations, Inuit and Métis people who need immediate emotional support can call the Hope for Wellness Help Line at 1-855-242-3310 or reach out to someone online at hopeforwellness.ca.