National Day for Truth and Reconciliation Orange Shirt Day

The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation was created in 2021 to commemorate the tragic legacy of residential schools. It is a painful part of Canadian history that significantly impacts Indigenous people and communities – and all of us – to this day. 

Whether the provincial government or any institution, including Humber, designates this day as a day away from work, the fact remains that September 30th is also recognized as Orange Shirt Day, which honors Residential School Survivors, including those who are living, those who have passed on, and those who never made it home. Orange Shirt Day also honors families and intergenerational survivors of the impact of the Residential School System in Canada. Orange Shirt Day originated in British Columbia in 2013 and has evolved into a nation-wide symbol that represents acknowledging residential schools as a part of our history and the awareness of the assimilation of the children forced into the Residential School System. Indigenous and Non-Indigenous people can wear orange to honor to raise awareness and honor those mentioned.

Orange Shirt Day 2023

On September 25th, supporters walked a 2.5km route for a Walk for Reconciliation to raise awareness for the Residential School System. Participants donated to one of the four following charities in the spirit of reconciliation:

1. Indian Residential School Survivors Society

The Indian Residential School Survivors Society (IRSSS) is a provincial organization providing essential services to residential school survivors/students, their families and loved ones, and Indigenous people experiencing intergenerational trauma. Recently, the IRSSS has supported survivors and intergenerational survivors with triggering and distressing situations, including the uncovering of unmarked graves at Indian Residential Schools across the country, by providing emotional and cultural support as needed.

2. Woodland Cultural Centre

The Woodland Cultural Centre (WCC) was established in October 1972, under the direction of the Association of Iroquois and Allied Indians upon the closure of the Mohawk Institute Residential School (MI). WCC’s focus began on collecting research and artifacts, to develop its library and museum collections, expanding to include the arts in 1975 and the language program in 1984.

3. Native Men’s Residence

Na-Me-Res is a community organization with proven practices in integrated culturally relevant social service delivery. Na-Me-Res compassionate and safe environment that addresses the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual needs of its clients. It also provides them to develop the skills, knowledge and confidence required to lead healthy and self-determined lives.

4. Anduhyaun Inc.

Anduhyaun Inc. is a non-profit registered charity founded by five grandmothers in 1973 to respond to the needs of Toronto's Indigenous women. It first opened as a hostel, and now provides emergency shelter and second stage transitional housing to women and their children fleeing violence. We make culturally-inclusive, safe spaces available for those who come through our doors to focus on their healing and wellness journey.

5. Humber Indigenous Education & Engagement Micro-Bursary Fund

To donate to the Humber IE&E Micro-Bursary Fund head to the Advance and Alumni website and click the “One-time Gift” tab. Select the donation amount you wish to give. When selection a designation for the gift, please select “Other” and you will be allowed to type in “Indigenous” in the designation box.  By donating to the IE&E Micro-Bursary you are alleviating financial stress for Indigenous learners at Humber who face emergency or hardship situations and unmet critical needs of students at any time of the year.

To read more about Orange Shirt Day, visit the following link:


Orange Shirt Day Continued


Orange Shirt Day takes place annually on September 30 along with the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. This is a day when we honour the Indigenous children who were sent away to Residential Schools in Canada and learn more about the history of those schools. Wearing an orange shirt and using the slogan, Every Child Matters, is an affirmation of our commitment to raise awareness of the residential school experience and to honour the healing journey of Indigenous lives impacted by residential schools.

Residential schools were church-run schools where approximately 150,000 Métis, Inuit and First Nations children were sent between the 1860s until 1996. The schools harmed Indigenous children by removing them from their families, forcing them to speak English or French instead of their ancestral languages, disconnecting them from their culture and traditions and forcing them to adopt Christianity in order to assimilate into Canadian society.

Research by the Truth and Reconciliation Comission of Canada (TRC) revealed that at least 3,201 students had died, mostly from disease. Diseases included tuberculosis and typhoid, which spread rapidly because the children were not adequately nourished and sometimes were forced to endure hard labor. Others died by suicide, in fires or by freezing to death while trying to escape. TRC chair, Justice Murray Sinclair, has suggested that the number of deaths may be closer to more than 6,000.

The “orange shirt” in Orange Shirt Day refers to the new shirt that Phyllis Webstad was given to her by her grandmother for her first day of school at St. Joseph’s Mission residential school in British Columbia. When Phyllis got to school, they took away her clothes, including her new shirt. It was never returned. To Phyllis, the colour orange has always reminded her of her experiences at residential school and, as she has said, “how my feelings didn’t matter, how no one cared and I felt like I was worth nothing. All of us little children were crying and no one cared” - St. Joseph’s Residential School Stories. Additional information about Orange Shirt Day can be found here.

At Humber, we will honour this important day by asking all members of the community to wear orange in support. Visit the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation/Orange Shirt Day Gallery to see what students and employees are saying.