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National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

September 30, 2023

National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, originally and still colloquially known as Orange Shirt Day, is a Canadian statutory holiday to recognize the legacy of the Canadian Indian residential school system. The day honours the children who never returned home and Survivors of residential schools, as well as their families and communities. Public commemoration of the tragic and painful history and ongoing impacts of residential schools is a vital component of the reconciliation process.

Orange Shirt Day was first established as an observance in 2013, as part of an effort to promote awareness and education of the residential school system and the impact it has had on Indigenous communities for over a century. The impact of the residential school system has been recognized as a cultural genocide, and continues to this day.

The use of an orange shirt as a symbol was inspired by the accounts of Phyllis Jack Webstad, whose personal clothing—including a new orange shirt—was taken from her during her first day of residential schooling, and never returned. The orange shirt is thus used as a symbol of the forced assimilation of Indigenous children that the residential school system enforced.

The day was elevated to a statutory holiday by the Parliament of Canada in 2021, and named the Truth and Reconciliation Day, in light of the revelations of over 1,000 unmarked graves near former residential school sites. The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is a statutory holiday for federal government employees and private-sector employees to whom the Canada Labour Code applies; the governments of Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and the Northwest Territories also added the day to their relevant employment legislation as an observance.


September 30, 2023
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