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Orange Shirt Day: 2021

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.

For additional resources related to residential schools and the Sixties Scoop, visit the IST: Indigenous Studies: Residential Schools and IST Indigenous Studies: Sixties Scoop guides.

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

Screen-grab from CBC Kid's News

CBC Kid's News: KN Explains Reconciliation

Hosted by Isabel DeRoy-Olson
CBC Kids News
Broadcast: 2021
Running time: 4:47


Film still from

The Secret Path: In The Classroom

Directed by Mike Downie
CBC Short Docs, Curio
Broadcast 2017
Running time: 09:37 minutes

Film still from

Want to bring about positive change? Tips from kid activists

Hosted by Saara Chaudry
CBC Kids News, Curio
Broadcast 2020
Running time: 03:21 minutes

Film still from

Systemic Racism: Does it Exist in Canada?

Hosted by Michael Serapio
News in Review, CBC, Curio
Broadcast 2020
Running time: 10:59 minutes

Film still from

Film about deadly shooting aims to make life safer for Indigenous kids

Hosted by Saara Chaudry
CBC Kids News, Curio
Broadcast 2019
Running time: 04:01 minutes

Further reading

Bawaajigan: Stories of Power

Nathan Niigan Noondin Adler & Christine Miskonoodinkwe Smith, 2019
PN 6120.95 D67 B5 2019
Featuring: Richard Van Camp; Autumn Bernhardt; Brittany Johnson; Gord Grisenthwaite; Joanne Arnott; Delani Valin; Cathy Smith; David Geary; Yugcetun Anderson; Gerald Silliker Pisim Maskwa; Karen Lee White; Sara Kathryn General; Nathan Niigan Noodin Adler; Francine Cunningham; Christine Miskonoodinkwe Smith; Lee Maracle; Wendy Bone.

Fighting for a Hand to Hold: Confronting Medical Colonialism Against Indigenous Children in Canada

Samir Shaheen-Hussain, forword by Cindy Blackstock, afterword by Katsi'tsakwas Ellen Gabriel, 2020

Whose Land Is It Anyway?: A Manual for Decolonization

Peter McFarlane, 2018
E-book and in print: E 92 W467 2017

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 website to learn about Phyllis's story in her own words.



Art as reconciliation

Streaming Media

Film still from

We Can't Make the Same Mistake Twice

Written and directed by Alanis Obomsawin
National Film Board of Canada, 2016
Running time: 2 hours, 42 minutes

Film still from

Birth of a Family

Directed by Tasha Hubbard
National Film Board of Canada. 2016
Running time: 1 hour, 19 minutes

Stories Are in Our Bones

Written and directed by Janine Windolph
National Film Board of Canada, 2019
Running time: 11 minutes

Screen shot from Kuper Island: Return to the Healing Circle

Kuper Island: Return to the Healing Circle

Written and directed by Peter Campbell & Christine Welsh
Gumboot Productions, 1997
Running time: 44 minutes
Also on DVD – call number: E 96.6 K83 K83 1997

Film still from

Freedom Road: Elders / Gitchi-aya'aag

Writen and directed by Angela McLeod
National Film Board of Canada, 2019
Running time: 12 minutes

Film still from

Holy Angels

Written and directed by Jay Cardinal Villeneuve
National Film Board of Canada, 2017
Running time: 13 minutes

Slide image of film, Our People will be Healed

Our People Will Be Healed

Written and directed by Alanis Obomsawin
National Film Board of Canada, 2017
Running time: 1 hour, 36 minutes

Etlinisigu'niet (Bleed Down)

Directed by Jeff Barnaby
National Film Board of Canada, 2015
Running time: 5 minutes

Christmas at Moose Factory

Written and directed by Alanis Obomsawin
National Film Board of Canada, 1971
Running time: 13 minutes

Film still from

The Secret Path

Directed by Mike Downie
CBC Arts, Curio
Broadcast 2016
Running time 59:55 minutes

Residential schools

Reports/Online Resources

Online resources