About this guide
The confirmation of the locations of unmarked burials at residential schools across Canada in 2021, including those at the Kuper Island School on Penelakut Island (east of Chemainus, Vancouver Island, 90 km from Victoria / lək̓ʷəŋən Territory), has further emphasized the ongoing and devastating impacts of Canada's Indian residential school system.
Indigenous communities and residential school survivors have, for many years, provided testimonies and spoken truths about Canada's Indian residential school system. In 2012 the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada published the interim report, They Came for the Children: Canada, Aboriginal Peoples, and Residential Schools. In 2015, as volume 4 of the final report, Canada's Residential Schools: Missing Children and Unmarked Burials, was published.
Canadians have known about the atrocities of Canada's residential school system for a long time. It is time to listen, learn, and take action. In honour of both the children who did not survive, as well those who did, take some time today for learning as an act of reconciliation.
Caution: Many of the resources in this guide contain discussions or scenes of violence or representations of trauma which may be painful for readers/viewers – please exercise care.
If you need help: The KUU-US Crisis Line Society provides 24-hour phone support for Indigenous people in BC. The KUU-US Crisis Line can be reached toll-free at 1-800-588-8717. Individuals can also call the Youth Line at 250-723-2040 or the Adult Line at 250-723-4050.
The Indian Residential School Crisis Line 1-866-925-4419 is available 24-hours a day for anyone experiencing pain or distress as a result of their or a loved one's residential school experience.
Camosun students can access help from the Counselling Centre. For resources related to emergency and after hours support, on-campus support, and other information, visit the Counselling Centre Resources webpage.
Orange Shirt Day Events: Hearts & Hands
1:00 - 3:00 pm, Wednesday, Sept. 29
All students and employees are welcome. Wear an orange shirt if you have one. Learn and reflect what this day means for Canadian residential school survivors and their families. Tea, coffee, and treats provided.
Na’sta’maht, Landsdowne: Hearts theme
Author Darrel J. McLeod will speak about the “Reveals” as he put it, of the 215+ bodies at Canadian residential schools. He is asking us to use the term reveals as the word discoveries indicates that we did not know the bodies were there.
Alex & Jo Campbell Centre for Health & Wellness, Interurban: Hands theme
Launch of new t-shirt and pin design by artist Carey Newman. Carey Newman will be present, and talk about the design and campaign. An opportunity to learn how to be an ally, how to engage and support communities impacted by Canadian residential schools.
Guests are invited to bring items for “love baskets” – goodies such as canned sockeye, honey, teas, medicines, preserves, candles, tea, and sugar-free treats and more – which will be gifted to residential school survivors that work closely with Camosun.
For more information, visit the Orange Shirt Day Event webpage.
Resources for young people
Orange Shirt Day
Orange Shirt Day (September 30) is an annual event where Indigenous and non-Indigenous people come together to honour residential school survivors, those students who did not survive, their families and communities, and to reflect on the far-reaching impacts of Canada's Indian residential school system. Beginning in 2021, September 30 will also be recognized in Canada as the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
The residential school system era began in the early 1870’s, continuing through to 1996, when the last school closed. More than 150,000 Indigenous, Métis and Inuit children attended residential school. Orange Shirt Day takes place in early autumn to acknowledge the time of year children when were removed from their families and forced to attend residential schools.
Orange Shirt Day began in 2013, in Williams Lake, BC. Phyllis Webstad (Northern Secwpemc, Stswecem’c Xgat’tem First Nation), a survivor of the St. Joseph Mission Residential School in William's Lake, told the story of her experience including the orange shirt that was stripped from her on her first day at the school at age six.
Phyllis's story has inspired people to take part in anti-bullying and anti-racism initiatives across Canada, and to learn about and acknowledge the reality of Canada's colonial history. Visit the orangeshirtday.org website to learn about Phyllis's story in her own words.
Art as reconciliation