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Orange Shirt Day

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September 30 is Orange Shirt Day. It began in 2013, when Phyllis Webstad shared her story about her first day at a residential school. Six-year-old Phyllis wore a new orange shirt that her grandmother had bought for her. But the shirt was taken away from her and never returned.

 

The Orange Shirt Story by Phyllis Webstad and Brock Nicol
The Orange Shirt Story by Phyllis Webstad and Brock Nicol

 

Phyllis's Orange Shirt by Phyllis Webstad and Brock Nicol
Phyllis's Orange Shirt by Phyllis Webstad and Brock Nicol

 

Orange Shirt Day: September 30th edited by Joan Sorley and Phyllis Webstad
Orange Shirt Day: September 30th edited by Joan Sorley and Phyllis Webstad

 

Residential schools were open in Canada for over 160 years, with the last one closing in 1996. During this time, Indigenous kids were taken from their families and communities. They were forced to give up their cultural traditions and languages. Many of them were also abused and murdered. By wearing orange, we honour the survivors of residential schools. And we remember the kids who died there.

September 30, 2021 is also the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. You can take some time to attend a school or community event, read a book or quietly reflect. Learn more about residential schools with these books:

 

Fatty Legs by Christy Jordan-Fenton, Margaret Pokiak-Fenton and Liz Amini-Holmes
Fatty Legs by Christy Jordan-Fenton, Margaret Pokiak-Fenton and Liz Amini-Holmes
Olemaun left her home in the high Arctic to go to school, determined to learn to read. (We talked about her story at a book club meeting - watch the replay online.) Olemaun's story continues in...

 

A Stranger at Home by Christy Jordan-Fenton, Margaret Pokiak-Fenton and Liz Amini-Holmes
A Stranger at Home by Christy Jordan-Fenton, Margaret Pokiak-Fenton and Liz Amini-Holmes
Things are different when she returns to her village after two years at a residential school. Margaret-Olemaun learns what it means to belong and how to be true to herself.

 

I Am Not a Number by Jenny Kay Dupuis, Kathy Kacer and Gillian Newland
I Am Not a Number by Jenny Kay Dupuis, Kathy Kacer and Gillian Newland
Jenny Kay Dupuis tells the story of her grandmother's terrible childhood experience. In the 1930s, Irene was forced to leave her family and attend a residential school.

 

Speaking Our Truth by Monique Gray Smith
Speaking Our Truth by Monique Gray Smith
Where have we come from? Where do we stand today? The past continues to affect the present in awful ways. We need to understand how and why and where we can go from here.

 

Spirit Bear: Honouring Memories, Planting Dreams by Cindy Blackstock and Amanda Strong
Spirit Bear: Honouring Memories, Planting Dreams by Cindy Blackstock and Amanda Strong
What is the Truth and Reconciliation Commission? This inspiring picture book explains it in a way that's easy to understand.

 

For more recommendations, check out: 
Read Indigenous
Reading Challenge: A Book by an Indigenous Woman