Orange Shirt Day is held every year on September 30 to honour the healing journey of residential school survivors and bring awareness to the need for reconciliation. Named after Phyllis Webstad’s favourite orange shirt—taken away from her in 1973 on her first day of residential school—this day has grown from a local event in her community of Williams Lake, B.C. to a statutory holiday.
Since the discovery of the 215 Indigenous children’s bodies in the mass grave at Kamloops Residential School in 2021— a number that keeps climbing as truth is uncovered at more schools — flags across the country have been flown at half-mast and people have been wearing orange shirts to show their solidarity and commitment to reconciliation.
Many activists also encourage the wearing of orange shirts for Canada Day, too. Educators like Ian Powell of North Vancouver are underlining the importance of reconsidering what makes us Canadian, as settlers of the stolen land on which we reside.