Orange Shirt Day and National Day for Truth and Reconciliation
Posted on 09/07/2022

What is Orange Shirt Day?

Orange Shirt Day is born out of the legacy of the St. Joseph Mission residential school commemoration event held in Williams Lake, BC in 2013. It grew out of Phyllis' story of having her orange shirt taken away on her first day of school at the Mission and has become an opportunity to keep the discussion on all aspects of residential schools alive annually. 

This day is a time to remember the residential school experience and to honour the healing journey of survivors and their families. September 30 is a day for survivors to be reaffirmed that they matter - Every Child Matters, even the spirit of that child if they are an adult now. 

To learn more about Orange Shirt Day,  please click here

The City of St. Thomas is committed to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) of Canada’s Calls to Action. In the spirit of reconciliation, the City joins others across the country to honour the Indigenous children sent away to residential schools in Canada by recognizing Orange Shirt Day.

September 30 has been declared Orange Shirt Day annually, in recognition of the harm that the residential school system caused to Indigenous children's and as an expression of our commitment to reaffirm that every child matters.

This date was chosen because it is the time of year when Indigenous children were taken from their homes to residential schools, which harmed their identity and well-being. Orange Shirt Day provides an opportunity to express our commitment to reaffirm that every child matters.

The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

As of June 3, 2021, a new federal statutory holiday received Royal Assent after it was passed unanimously in the Senate. The second statutory holiday of The National Day of Truth and Reconciliation will be recognized on September 30, 2022, and coincides with Orange Shirt Day.

The establishment of the new national holiday is in response to the 80th call to action in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to Action. Reconciliation requires active participation from everyone. The day provides an opportunity to not only observe and commemorate the tragic legacy of the residential schools, but also quiet time to reflect or actively participate in a community activity or event.

Community Events - Get Involved

City of St. Thomas facilities and services remain open for normal hours on Friday September 30, however, there will be reflection and learning on the purpose and importance of this day, and to honour the lives lost, the survivors and their families.

St. Thomas residents are encouraged to join the City in wearing orange to honour Indigenous families, children, and survivors who continue to be affected by the residential school legacy. Please consider buying a shirt from an organization that supports Indigenous groups (N'Amerind (London) Friendship Centre, Atlohsa Family Healing Services, L&L Creations, Custom made Items, The Bead Catcher: Facebook page here)


Community members are encouraged to attend the Orange Shirt Day ceremony at City Hall on Friday September 30, 2022 at 12:00pm (noon). A flag raising and proclamation reading will take place, alongside other community stakeholders. The new sidewalk painting located outside City Hall on Mondamin Street will also be formally acknowledged as part of the ceremony. Public art will also be lit orange in recognition of this important day.

Residents can get involved online by writing a message of reconciliation on social media using #EveryChildMattersStT

St. Thomas Public Library

The St. Thomas Public Library invites the community to tie fresh ribbons along the fence in front of the library to mark the occasion.

The Library webpage will be updated with various educational resources - both booklists from the library as well as websites, events, podcasts, and online resources that residents are welcome to explore. Please visit the library if you are interested in reading and checking out these books.

Read more on the Library webpage that contains information on the Mural that was completed last year on the west side of the building, and the buttons that will be available for residents on September 30th.

UPCOMING EVENT: On September 30th the St. Thomas Library is hosting an Oral Storytelling Concert featuring Randy Penasse of Nipissing First Nation. Please stay tuned for more details. 

Resources 

Support is available for anyone affected by the traumatic legacy of residential schools and those who are triggered by the latest reports and recoveries. The Indian Residential School Survivors Society (IRSSS) can be contacted toll free at 1-800-721-0066. A national Indian Residential School Crisis Line has been set up to provide support for former students and those affected. People can access emotional and crisis referral services by calling the 24-hour national crisis line: 1-866-925-4419

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