Why we wear orange on Sept 30


Annually on September 30, Canada commemorates National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, which is also Orange Shirt Day. 

For 2023, Sept 30 falls on a Saturday, making it a great opportunity for Canadians to participate in National Day for Truth and Reconciliation activities or Orange Shirt Day events (regardless of whether your province designates the day as a statutory holiday).

As a newer occasion—first declared as a federal statutory holiday in June 2021—many of us may still have questions about how best to recognize the day. Here's some information to get you started, including National Day for Truth and Reconciliation events and resources.

How to engage in National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

Many people in Canada are still learning what roles we play in reconciliation. The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation sets aside a chance for all of us to learn, to reflect and to explore what reconciliation means.

Let's start from the beginning: 

What is the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation? 

What should we, as people living on treaty lands, do on that day? 

And why do we wear orange on September 30?  

Origins of Orange Shirt Day

It has been almost ten years since the very first Orange Shirt Day, inspired by a story told by Phyliss Jack Webstad in Williams Lake, BC, on September 30, 2013. As a young child, Webstad had her orange shirt—a special gift from her Grandmother—taken away from her when she first arrived at residential school.

Webstad's efforts to bring to light the devastating impacts of the residential school system that continue to affect countless First Nations has been profound. 

We encourage readers to learn more about Orange Shirt Day origins and the ongoing efforts.

Photo: Kea Mowat
Visitors learn about 5000+ year-old Kiix̣in village, on Huu-ay-aht homelands.

Ever since, an Orange Wave of momentum has grown, raising awareness of all the Survivors but also all the children that never made it home from residential schools in Canada.

ZenSeekers is committed to reconciliation. 

We invite you to join us in walking the path forward by choosing Indigenous travel and cultural experiences in your travels.

As a much-needed step the federal government has officially recognized the important need for this conversation and education to occur at the national level. 

Grande Prairie Indigenous culture Paul Lavoie ZenSeekers
Photo: Paul Lavoie
Home to the Tsattine River People or Dane-zaa (Beaver People), Nehiyawak (Cree People), and Dene People, and later, the Métis Nation as well—Grande Prairie’s Indigenous tourism scene is bursting with welcoming opportunities.

How to observe National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

Beyond wearing your orange shirt, what can you do on this day? The Government of Canada, Indigenous Tourism Alberta and Indigenous Tourism BC collectively encourage spending the day in reflection, education, dialogue and action (see the event links below for ideas on ways to engage).

The Government of Canada upon announcing this very important recognition stated, “The day honours the lost children and Survivors of residential schools, their families and communities. Public commemoration of the tragic and painful history and ongoing impacts of residential schools is a vital component of the reconciliation process.”

Events & information

On this coming September 30, we hope you will take the time to honour the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. 

Here are a few ways to: 

participate in National Day for Truth and Reconciliation 2023

On social media, use the hashtag #NDTR and include us at #zenseekeers so we can be part of sharing this journey of learning and growing together. 

Experience Indigenous culture in Alberta, BC

For travel experiences that deepen your understanding of Indigenous culture in Canada, beyond our site, you can find more travel information and ideas: 

Indigenous Tourism BC

Indigenous Tourism Alberta

Marysville Falls, near Cranbrook, is a place of healing for the Ktunaxa people, whose homelands encompass Fernie, Cranbrook and Kimberley.

Indigenous Tourism Alberta wrote on its website; “On September 30, we wear orange as a visual reminder of our shared past as both Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada and take this opportunity for education and dialogue on our shared history.”

We will wear our orange shirts, we will participate in the activities but we will also be certain to come to observing this day in a good way. We will be taking note from the wise words shared by Indigenous Tourism BC on how to actively engage on September 30:

“Use this day as a time of reflection that Canada is responsible for the deaths and suffering of Indigenous children at residential institutions across the nation...

"Step forward as a witness to the hard truths, and accept responsibility to learn and change. Reconciliation is not just the responsibility of government—it is a responsibility that belongs to all Canadians.”

Carrying a voyageur canoe at Métis Crossing, AB.
Photo: Paul Lavoie
Métis Crossing offers visitors the chance to immerse in Indigenous heritage, like this voyageur canoe experience.

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