Orange Shirt Day in Canada Date in the current year: September 30, 2024

Orange Shirt Day in Canada Orange Shirt Day is an annual awareness campaign held in Canada on September 30. Its main task is to raise awareness about the impact of the Indian residential school system on Canadian Indigenous communities, as well as promote the concept of “Every Child Matters”.

The Indian residential school system was a network of boarding schools for the First Nations, Inuit and Métis children. It was funded by the Department of Indian Affairs and run by Christian churches. The main purpose of these schools was to remove Indigenous children from their communities and assimilate them into the dominant Canadian culture. Over the course of the system’s existence, around 150,000 kids (about 30% of Canadian Indigenous children) were placed in residential schools.

Gordon Indian Residential School in Punnichy, Saskatchewan, was the last federally operated residential school in Canada. It closed down in 1996. Twelve years later, the Government of Canada issued a public apology to Indigenous families affected by the system. Unfortunately, no apology can reverse the fact that hundreds of thousands of kids were removed from their families, deprived of their language and culture, exposed to abuse, and forcibly enfranchised.

The Orange Shirt Day campaign was launched in 2013 by Phyllis Jack Webstad, a residential school survivor. On her first day at school, Phyllis had her new orange shirt taken away from her. Today, people wear orange shirts on September 30 to educate and raise awareness about residential schools and their cruel assimilation practices.

Such a date was chosen for Orange Shirt Day because it was around this time that Indigenous children were taken from their families to residential schools. The campaign is similar to Pink Shirt Day, which is an annual anti-bullying event.

In addition to wearing orange shirts to promote awareness about residential schools, Orange Shirt Day encourages to organize public lectures, memorial walks, film screenings, and other events aimed to educate Canadians about the history of the residential school system.

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Orange Shirt Day in Canada, observances in Canada, awareness campaign, Indian residential schools in Canada