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Orange Shirt Day


Life + Learning

  • An orange shirt

Idea Exchange | October 4, 2021

September 30 is Orange Shirt Day, a day to honour Indigenous children who were sent to residential schools in Canada. Orange Shirt Day challenges us to witness and honour the stories of Survivors and their families, and to commit to meaningful discussion and the ongoing process of reconciliation.

Orange Shirt Day originated in British Columbia with founder and Northern Secwpemc (Shuswap) from the Stswecem’c Xgat’tem First Nation and an Indian Residential School Survivor Phyllis Webstad’s story. Phyllis’ family purchased a shiny new orange shirt for her to wear when she started at the residential school in Mission, BC in 1973. But when she arrived there, her Orange Shirt was stripped from her and never given back along with her name, her identity, her language, and her connection to her family and culture. It is a story that reminds us of the harm of residential schools and how First Nations, Métis and Inuit children were left feeling worthless. Orange Shirt Day shines a light on the truth of Canada’s history towards Indigenous Peoples and asserts that Every Child Matters.

Learn more by visiting the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation and reading the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s 94 Calls to Action. There is even a child-friendly educational resource about the Calls to Action. Locally you can explore the Woodland Cultural Centre in Brantford where the former Mohawk Institute Indian Residential School is being restored as a site of conscience, with a goal to make it “a fully-realized Interpretive Centre that will be the definitive destination for information about the history of Residential Schools in Canada, the experiences of Survivors of the schools, and the impact that the Residential School system has had on our communities.” Here is a selection of programs, books, film and other material that spotlight Indigenous stories of Residential Schools, stories by Indigenous authors, and information about Indigenous History in Canada.


Kung Jaadee drumming



Squamish Stories with Kung Jaadee
Thursday, September 30, 11:00am

Kung Jaadee shares her telling of Squamish legends in this live storytelling performance.

View the recording of this event on the Idea Exchange YouTube channel.

Royal Ontario Museum


Indigenous Perspectives at the ROM
Thursday, October 14, 2:00pm

Make a virtual visit to the Royal Ontario Museum and talk to their Indigenous Museum Educator.

Image showing website:


Love Your Body - Heal the World
Monday, October 18, 7:00pm

The Aunties Dandelion present their 10-minute film VeRONAka - about the fictional embodiment of COVID-19.

For Adults -- Non-Fiction, Fiction, and Film

Cover of Picking Up the PiecesCover of From Bear Rock MountainCover of They Called me number oneCover of Call me IndianCover of 21 Things You May Not Know about the Indian ActCover of Moonshot Volume 1

Picking up the pieces : residential school memories and the making of the witness blanket by Carey Newman, 2019

From Bear Rock Mountain : the life and times of a Dene residential school survivor by Antoine Mountain, 2019

They called me number one : secrets and survival at an Indian residential school by Bev Sellars, 2013

Call me Indian: From the Trauma of Residential School to Becoming the NHL's First Treaty Indigenous Player by Fred Sasakamoose, 2021

21 things you may not know about the Indian Act : helping Canadians make reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples a reality by Robert P. C. Joseph, 2018

Moonshot, the Indigenous comics collection, 2020

Cover of Seven Fallen Feathers Cover of The Education of Augie Merasty Cover of A Matter of ConscienceCover of Highway of Tears

Seven fallen feathers : racism, death, and hard truths in a northern city by Tanya Talaga, 2017

The education of Augie Merasty : a residential school memoir by Joseph Auguste Merasty, 2017

Broken circle : the dark legacy of Indian residential schools : a memoir by Theodore Fontaine, 2010

A matter of conscience by James Bartleman, 2018

Highway of Tears : a true story of racism, indifference and the pursuit of justice for missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls by Jessica McDiarmid

This Place: 150 Years Retold Anthology, 2019

A Selection of NFB Films by Indigenous filmmakers and allies

Browse further in our collection:


For Younger Children -- Picture Books

Cover of Phyllis's Orange ShirtCover of When we were aloneCover of The TrainCover of Stolen WordsCover of I am not a number

Phyllis's orange shirt by Phyllis Webstad, 2019

When we were alone by David Robertson, 2016

The Train by Jodie Callaghan, 2020

Stolen Words by Melanie Florence, 2017

I am not a number by Jenny Kay Dupuis, 2016


For Older Children and Teens -- Graphic Novels, Fiction, and Non-Fiction

Cover of Ghost CollectorCover of StoneCover of Secret Path

The ghost collector by Allison Mills, 2019

7 Generations graphic novel series by David Robertson

Secret Path by Gord Downie & Jeff Lemire

Cover of Orange Shirt DayCover of These are My Words: The Residential School Diary of Violet PesheensCover of Speaking Our TruthCover of Fatty Legs

Orange Shirt Day, September 30th, 2020

These are my words : the residential school diary of Violet Pesheens by Ruby Slipperjack, 2016; Dear Canada Series

Speaking Our Truth: a journey of reconciliation by Monique Gray Smith, 2017

Fatty Legs : A True Story by Christy Jordan-Fenton, 2010

Browse Further in our Collection: