Orange Shirt Day – National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

On Saturday, September 30, 2023, Bruce County will solemnly observe the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, also known as Orange Shirt Day. This day serves as a significant opportunity for all Canadians to acknowledge, remember, and contemplate the tragic history and lasting impact of residential schools on Indigenous people and communities. We encourage residents, businesses, and staff to enhance their understanding of the residential school system through education and to wear an orange shirt in honor of the survivors and in memory of those who did not.

Throughout September, the “Every Child Matters” flag has been flown at prominent County locations. On Saturday, September 30, it will be respectfully lowered to half-mast.

In pursuit of our ongoing reconciliation efforts, Bruce County is committed to an Indigenous Reconciliation Planning Initiative. This initiative seeks to promote Indigenous cultural awareness and intercultural competency within the County, with the goal of developing a collaborative Indigenous Reconciliation Plan.

In September, the Bruce County Museum & Cultural Centre, in partnership with various organizations, facilitated several impactful initiatives. These efforts included hosting Kairos Blanket Exercises with the support of Canadian Heritage (September 21, 22 & 23), the creation of a special ribbon skirt display for Orange Shirt Day, donated by Saugeen First Nation Library, and active participation in Truth and Reconciliation activities at GC Huston Public School and Saugeen First Nation’s Minjimendaamin (We Remember) bridge gathering event. Furthermore, the museum collaborated with organizations such as the Legacy of Hope Foundation, Saugeen Ojibway Nation, and more to unveil the compelling ‘Youth on Reconciliation’ exhibition, showcasing artistic works and poems from Imagine a Canada competition winners, offering valuable insights into the significance of Reconciliation for Canada’s youth. This exhibition is further supported by community members from the Chippewas of Saugeen and Chippewas of Nawash for a more personal perspective on the exhibit and deeper insights through conversation to better understand Truth before Reconciliation – each Wednesday from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM.

Additionally, the Bruce County Public Library is honoured to have Priscilla Yellowhead Tobey at the Wiarton Branch at 11:00 AM on Thursday, September 28 and at the Tobermory Branch at 1:00 PM on Friday, September 29 for an excellent opportunity to learn more about the local Indigenous communities and the meaning behind reconciliation. Residents are also welcome to visit any of the 17 BCPL branches to add orange shirt-themed activities to the interactive displays outlining several calls to action taken from the Truth and Reconciliation report. Works by Indigenous authors will be showcased in the branches and can be borrowed with your BCPL Library card.

Learn more about the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation online at the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation.

“September 30 marks National Day for Truth and Reconciliation / Orange Shirt Day, a time for Bruce County residents, businesses and staff to pause, reflect, and stand in solidarity with the worldwide discourse,” said Bruce County Warden Chris Peabody, “Orange Shirt Day is our chance to raise awareness, build pathways to reconciliation, and reaffirm that Every Child Matters.”

About Orange Shirt Day
Orange Shirt Day is a movement to recognize the colonial legacy of residential schools and commit to the ongoing process of reconciliation. Observed since 2013, Orange Shirt Day recalls the experience of residential school survivor Phyllis Webstad, who at six years old was stripped of her brand-new bright orange t-shirt, in favour of mandatory uniforms, on her first day at a residential school in 1973. Ms. Webstad’s story is the nucleus for what has become a national movement to recognize the experience of survivors of Indian residential schools, honour them, and show a collective commitment to ensure that every child matters. The initiative calls for every Canadian to wear an orange shirt on September 30 in the spirit of healing and reconciliation. The date of September 30 was chosen because it was the time of year when Indigenous children were removed from their families and forced to attend residential schools.