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Society Recognizes Orange Shirt Day

October 20, 2023

Truth & Reconciliation is more than just a day of recognition

During the month of September, we recognized the second annual National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, a day proclaimed federally to acknowledge and reflect on the complex history of Indigenous peoples in Canada, and consider what we can all do as Canadians, with our Indigenous neighbours, to co-create a better future by addressing the challenges of today. September 30th, also known as Orange Shirt Day, honours the children who never returned home and Survivors of residential schools, as well as their families and communities. Acknowledging these individuals, and the intergenerational traumas stemming from the residential school system publicly is an important step in our collective journeys toward Truth and Reconciliation.

Orange Shirt Day began as a grassroots movement in the spring of 2013 when Phyllis Webstad (a member of a member of the Stswecem'c Xgat'tem First Nation) shared her story at a St. Joseph Mission (SJM) Residential School Commemoration Project and Reunion event in Williams Lake, BC. Phyllis bravely shared about the excitement she felt wearing a brand-new orange shirt that her grandmother had given her on her first day of school. When she arrived at school, her orange shirt was taken from her, and she never saw it again. Like many other residential school survivors, Phyllis not only lost her favourite shirt during her time there. She also lost a connection to her culture, the ability to speak the language of her community, friends she made at school who never returned home, and most importantly, her sense of identity and pride in who she is. The damages done to these children are irreparable and are at the core of intergenerational traumas that have resulted in hardships such as substance abuse, homelessness, and poverty.

While this system no longer exists, it is the responsibility of all Canadians to come together and help communities thrive and not just survive.

Many organizations, including the Society of United Professionals, observe the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation with a work holiday. Instead of spending this day catching up on housework, take the time to reflect on the true and complex history of Canada. Read a book by an Indigenous author. Volunteer your time to support an Indigenous community’s recognition of the day to better understand the systemic barriers they are still facing. Buy a pair of earrings or a painting from an Indigenous artisan. Invite a friend for coffee and talk to them about Reconciliation. Be an advocate and a voice for Indigenous rights and freedoms.

It is also important to think about the traditional territories that we each live on, where we grew up, and the lands that we have enjoyed and benefited from throughout our lifetimes. It is important to lift up those nations and people who have cared for these for thousands of years and continue to care for them today. Each of these resilient nations are home to survivors of an education system and government that was designed to erode and erase their beautiful and rich culture – something that they are proudly reclaiming today and passing down to their children.

Truth and Reconciliation Resources



  • Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese
  • Seven Fallen Feathers by Tanya Talaga
  • Unreconciled – Family, Truth, and Indigenous Resistance by Jesse Wente
  • Five Little Indians by Michelle Good
  • The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline
  • Son of a Trickster by Eden Robinson
  • Moon of the Crusted Snow by Waubegeshig Rice
  • From the Ashes by Jessie Thistle
  • Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer
  • The Break by Katherena Vermette
  • The Inconvenient Indian by Thomas King
  • Jonny Appleseed by Joshua Whitehead
  • Heart Berries by Terese Marie Mailhot
  • The Strangers by Katherena Vermette
  • Probably Ruby by Lisa Bird-Wilson
  • You Are The Medicine by Asha Frost
  • True Reconciliation by Jody Wilson-Raybould
  • The Reason You Walk by Wab Kinew
  • Call Me Indian by Fred Sasakamoose
  • Indian in the Cabin by Jody Wilson-Raybould
  • Permanent Astonishment by Tomson Highway
  • Broken Circle by Theodore Niizhotay Fontaine
  • Murder on the Red River by Marcie R Rendon
  • Reclaiming Two-Spirits by Gregory D Smithers
  • Namwayut: We Are All One: A Pathway to Reconciliation





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