How to acknowledge Orange Shirt Day – a few ideas

Maybe today, you’re heading to the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre, or wearing an orange shirt, or participating in a ceremony or an event. Maybe you’re making a donation to the Indian Residential School Survivors Society ( Maybe you don’t have anything planned, and you’re not really sure what to do, or even if you want to. The people behind the Indian Horse film offer one possibility: what if you just watched a film – Indian Horse, or The Grizzlies. What if instead of centring Iron Man or Spiderman as the superhero of the moment, you opened your heart to a different kind of heroism.

They write: “We know that for many of us and for many of you, the evidence of the unmarked graves that continue to be revealed has been a series of re-traumatizing events. For many non-Indigenous Canadians it has been a huge shock. But for those who had heard these stories, or experienced first-hand – this was not a ‘discovery’ as the media often falsely portrays it, but rather evidence of a state-sanctioned crime scene. And so it does not feel right to send out a cheerful promotional email but rather a reminder that we in a time of reckoning, we cannot lose sight of truth as we yearn for reconciliation. And for those of us who are not Indigenous – we need to become or stay uncomfortable. All is not well.

As Tanya Talaga tweeted: “Today is a day to listen to survivors, to honour the children lost, found and those we seek. Be gentle, kind, it is an emotional day. Above all, think what you can do to bring change.” #EveryChildMatters

And it is in this context that a National Day of Truth and Reconciliation has been declared, a government-led holiday, answering the call from the TRC years and years after 94 calls to action were launched in 2015. We deeply hope this late September day, in these many ways, will inspire truthful conversations about reconciliation and systemic racism as well as the power of the grassroots, of storytelling.” 

Phyllis Webstad’s Orange Shirt Society offers these 5 ways to be an ally supporting reconciliation:

Reconciliation happens when everyone participates.

Follow Indigenous creators on social media and amplify their voices by sharing their stories

Challenge outdated stereotypes used by friends, family, and community members

Normalize conversations around Indigenous rights and commit to educating yourself about the ongoing legacy of colonialism in Canada

Purchase from Indigenous-owned businesses

Donate to Indigenous-led non-profits and charities

Donate to Orange Shirt Society at

You might even choose to write a letter to an elected official – your Mayor, your MLA, your Prime Minister… and tell them it’s time to do better.

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