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September 27, 2021
The first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation Day is finally here, on September 30, after decades of advocacy from Survivors, communities and organizations like ours.
Some will also know the day as “Orange Shirt Day” and we love that this day has a community-created name! It's a deeply moving story, the day and the organization was created by Survivors at an important healing event in 2013 where as one of the spokespeople Phyllis (Jack) Webstad told her story of her first day at Residential School. A moment stuck with many: she spoke of her shiny new orange shirt, bought by her grandmother, taken from her as a six-year old girl.
Phyllis and the story of the orange shirt stolen from her inspired the audience and so many since then. Her story and the symbol - an orange shirt - has helped bring an Indigenous-created symbol of grief and hope to the forefront during a very difficult summer.
Non-Indigenous organizations have also jumped up to support, like our friends at Know History who are also contributing to the movement. They commissioned Indigenous artist (and Animikii lead designer) Tom Spetter and worked with a First Nations clothing supplier to create shirts for their team, while making generous contributions to several Truth and Reconciliation focused organizations. They are also encouraging ongoing contributions to the Indian Residential School Survivors Society, the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, the Mohawk Institute Residential School Woodland Cultural Centre or a similar organization and will send along a complimentary shirt if you donate! More on their initiative here.
There is still some way to go, several provinces have refused or delayed implementing the holiday. If you’re in one of these places, you can use or advocate for policy changes within your office to enable swapping of Statutory holidays so your team could opt to have a different day off to honour someone/something meaningful to them as individuals, like Orange Shirt day.
September 27, 2021
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