Orange Shirt Day and National Day of Remembrance for Boarding Schools


Today, September 30th, is annual Orange Shirt Day and National Day of Remembrance for Boarding Schools. This day is dedicated to acknowledging the harmful effects and legacy that Residential Schools, in both Canada and the U.S., have left behind.

Orange Shirt Day was started by Phyllis (Jack) Webstad. When she arrived at a boarding school at the age of six, she was stripped of all her clothes and belongings. This included a brand new orange shirt from her grandmother. That orange shirt now symbolizes all the harm that the residential school system did, and all that it took away from those children.

We remember the Indigenous children that were stolen from their homes and taken to boarding schools. These students were not allowed to speak their native languages, practice their spiritual beliefs, wear their own cultural outfits, or even wear their hair as their ancestors did. Many of them never returned home.

We are here to witness and honor the healing journey of the survivors and their families.

As an organization with a commitment to be anti-racist and anti-oppressive, EVOLVE believes it is important for us to have meaningful discussion about this topic, and consider the ways in which it impacts our work in the child welfare system.

Take today to learn more and raise awareness about Orange Shirt Day and National Day of Remembrance. We encourage people from all communities to honor boarding school survivors and call for accountability.

Here are some ways you can take action:

Research and support the goals of The National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition (NABS)

“NABS was created to develop and implement a national strategy that increases public awareness and cultivates healing for the profound trauma experienced by individuals, families, communities, American Indian and Alaska Native Nations resulting from the U.S. adoption and implementation of the Boarding School Policy of 1869 (source).”

NABS has advocated for a Truth Commission on Indian Boarding Schools in order to investigate, document, and address the impacts of Indian boarding schools.

Political engagement

Find out who your Senators, Representatives, national, state, and local politicians are. Email, call, or request a meeting to speak with them about the history of Indian Boarding Schools and what changes you want to see made.

Look up and attend local events that support our Indigenous communities. For Orange Shirt Day, there are both virtual and in-person events, such as walks, that aim to raise awareness.

Going forward, there are also other issues impacting Indigenous communities that you can learn more about and offer your support of, such as the Stop Line 3 Movement.

Read more books

The NABS website offers a recommended reading list. You can read about history, healing, decolonization, or find books for kids/young adults.

Donate or buy

Donate to The Orange Shirt Society to support the cause— “every child matters.”

Buy the children’s book that Phyllis (Jack) Webstad wrote about her residential school experience.

Purchase a shirt, hoodie, or other product from the NABS collection, or simply donate to the coalition.

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