On September 30, wear an orange shirt to remember and honour Indigenous children who were taken from their homes.

A single feather on an orange background

On September 30, people all across Canada will wear orange shirts to remember and honour Indigenous children who were taken from their communities and families to residential institutions.

This year, Indigenous communities across the country continue to share the truth they have always known: that many of the children who never returned home remain on the grounds of those institutions in unmarked burial sites. These communities are now seeking to honour the missing children.

On Orange Shirt Day we also observe the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. For non-Indigenous Christians in particular, this is a time to reflect on their role in colonialism and the ongoing responsibility to make reparations.

Why Orange?

Phyllis Jack Webstad from the Stswecem’c Xgat’tem First Nation went to St. Joseph Mission Residential School. On her first day of school, Phyllis wore an orange shirt that her grandmother had given her. It was immediately taken away, and that marked the beginning of Phyllis’s long separation from her family and community, a separation caused by actions of the church and federal government.

Orange Shirt Day is a time for us all to remember those events and their ongoing impact. Indigenous Ministries and Justice has prepared a week of activities for all in the church to take part in.

A Week of Orange Shirt Day Activities

Sunday, September 25

Mark Orange Shirt Day in your community of faith!

  • For children’s time, read and reflect on Phyllis Webstad’s book, The Orange Shirt Story (widely available).
  • Use this prayer written for Orange Shirt Day/National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
  • Whether your community of faith is meeting in person, online, or both, please ask people to wear orange for a community picture. It could be a group photo, a Zoom call screenshot, or a photo collage. Share your photos on Facebook and Twitter (include the hashtags #OrangeShirtDay, #EveryChildMatters, and #UCCan), or send your pictures to Reconciliation and Indigenous Justice Animator Sara Stratton (SStratton@united-church.ca) for use on our social media pages.

Tuesday, September 27, 6:30 – 8:00 PM ET

Survivors and inter-generational survivors of residential institutions are invited into a time of healing and learning with Laini Lascelles, who will be talking about Self-Care Through Connecting with the Land. Laini is from Delaware Nation of the Thames, and is Lenape, Anishnaabwe, and Mohawk. She’s a healer and grandmother, and has been working in First Nations communities for over 25 years. Laini acknowledges and attributes her learning and guidance from the Elders. She has worked in various settings and continues to encourage others and share the wisdom from her teachers.

You must register to participate in this event.

Wednesday, September 28, 7:00 – 8:30 PM ET

At 7:00 PM ET, we invite you to join Leeann Shimoda, Independent First Nations Jordan’s Principle Coordinator, in a Zoom discussion of Jordan’s Principle. Leeann will be teaching on the background of and the ins and outs of Jordan’s Principle and answering any questions that come up.

This free event is open to anyone but may be particularly helpful to parents/caregivers of Indigenous children and people who work with Indigenous children.

You must register to participate in this event

Friday, September 30

Wear an orange shirt on September 30. Whether you’re at work, at school, or at home, get out that orange shirt!

Make sure you take a picture to share on Facebook and Twitter (include the hashtags #OrangeShirtDay, #EveryChildMatters, and #UCCan), and challenge your friends and family to do the same. You can also send your pictures to Reconciliation and Indigenous Justice Animator Sara Stratton (SStratton@united-church.ca) for use on our social media pages.