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.
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.
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.
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
- Attend in-person or online events through the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR), including their daily "lunch and learn" workshops, Sept 25 - 29, 2023. On Sept 30 from 11am CDT, the NCTR hosts Remembering the Children at Parliament Hill in Ottawa, which will be broadcast nationally (check local listings).
- For more information, check out the resources shared by the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation or visit the Government of Canada website.
- If you're in Williams Lake, home to the Orange Shirt Society, join in on Orange Shirt Day events on Sept 27
- In Edmonton, you can join in the Orange Shirt Day Run/Walk event, as a fundraiser for the Orange Shirt Society and a way to honour Indigenous ancestors and survivors of residential school
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 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.”
More Indigenous travel & learning
Our ZenSeekers team has been honoured to work with a number of Nations to share with our audience some of the ways that you can travel along the path of reconciliation in such BC and Alberta.
For more ways to engage with Indigenous culture and experiences in Canada, we invite you to please subscribe to our ZenSeekers e-newsletter.