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Orange Shirt Day, also known as National Day for Truth and Reconciliation or National Day of Remembrance, is observed yearly on September 30. 

Orange Shirt Day was first established as an observance in 2013 as part of an effort to promote awareness and education of the Canadian residential school system and its impact on Indigenous communities for over a century. 

The inspiration for Orange Shirt Day came from residential school survivor Phyllis Jack Webstad, who shared her story at a St. Joseph Mission Residential School Commemoration Project and Reunion event held in 2013. 

Webstad recounted on her first day of residential school when she was stripped of her clothes, including a new orange shirt her grandmother had bought her, which was never returned. 

Now, the orange shirt is used as a symbol of the forced assimilation of Indigenous children. However, the association of the color with the First Nations goes back to antiquity, the color represents sunshine, truth-telling, health, regeneration, strength, and power. 

Orange Shirt Day exists as a legacy of the St. Joseph Mission Project, and September 30 signifies the time of year when Indigenous children were historically taken from their families and taken to residential schools. The official tagline of the day, “Every Child Matters,” reminds people that all cultural experiences are important. 

Education on the history of residential schools and their assimilation practices are encouraged from Webstads’ experience in particular. Many communities hold memorial walks, film screenings, and public lectures to raise awareness about Indigenous history.

Here is Native New Online's round-up of events happening to commemorate Orange Shirt Day.

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Orange Shirt Day- Work Day
Stevens Point, WI
September 28, 2023

Get your free Orange T-shirt, and have some food, community and crafts. The Native American Center will be hosting White Pine Drum from Oneida to honor the lost children. Work to prepare for Orange Shirt Day on September 30 with a remembrance walk. 

Orange Shirt Day: Documentary Screening and Empty Shoe Display
Washington, CT
September 30, 2023

This year, join IAIS staff for a screening and discussion of Unspoken: America’s Native American Boarding Schools. Participants are encouraged to wear an orange shirt. 

Orange Shirt Day March and Rally
Seattle, WA
September 30, 2023

Meet at the Seattle Federal Office Building to peacefully march to Westlake Center Park, where the rally will take place. We will host speakers, including Matthew Warbonnet (Keynote Speaker/Survivor), share songs and prayers, have youth chant leaders from CLEARSKY, and demand acknowledgment of the atrocities these assimilative policies inflicted upon Indigenous peoples and command these shameful institutions to find our murdered, buried and lost indigenous ancestor children and return them home. 

Orange Shirt Day and Our World: Worldwide Day of Play
Anchorage, AK
September 30, 2023

Come join Downtown Anchorage on September 30 for an all-ages event for Orange Shirt Day and Our World: Worldwide Day of Play. We’re inviting friends and neighbors from all over the Anchorage area to come to share games and activities from their communities. 

National Day of Remembrance
Colorado Springs, CO
September 30, 2023

The walk will begin at the Colorado School for the Deaf & Blind, where Ute students were housed from 1893-1894. There is residential area parking. Attendees will leave the school to walk down Pikes Peak to City Hall, read the National Day of Awareness Proclamation, and then proceed to the Catholic Diocese. The walk is 1.3 miles. There will be a van at the end of the walk to transport any Elders or those with mobility issues back to their cars. 

Orange Shirt Day Survivors Walk and Powwow 2023
Winnipeg, MB, Canada
September 30, 2023

Everyone is encouraged to come together on this day to reckon with the history of the residential school system. This is a vital part of the reconciliation process in Canada as it deepens our awareness of this history. The walk will begin at 11 a.m. with a Grand Entry at 1 p.m. 

Remembrance and Healing Walk
Fargo, SD
September 29, 2023 

Please join the Indigenous Association for the Remembrance and Healing Walk. Honoring the children who did not make it home and boarding school survivors. Meet at Indigenous Association 720 1st Ave N. Then the walk will go to Broadway to 7th St S Island Park. A moment of silence, and prayer, survivors share and walk back to the Indigenous Association for light refreshments.

Truth and Reconciliation Day/ Orange Shirt Awareness Walk
Flagstaff, AZ
September 29, 2023

 Join NACA’s Health Promotion Program for National Truth and Reconciliation Day (aka Orange Shirt Day) to raise awareness about the history of boarding schools in the United States and Canada and to support survivors and families of those who never came home.

Orange Shirt Day: Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe 
Mashpee, MA
September 30, 2023

The Office for Victims of Crime is organizing an Orange Shirt Day event at the Mashpee Rotary from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. A social will follow at the Community and Government Center from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. During the social, a poster contest will be held. If you would like to participate, the OVC will be providing free poster materials from September 25-29 in the lobby of the Community and Government Center. 

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About The Author
Kaili Berg
Author: Kaili BergEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Staff Reporter
Kaili Berg (Aleut) is a member of the Alutiiq/Sugpiaq Nation, and a shareholder of Koniag, Inc. She is a staff reporter for Native News Online and Tribal Business News. Berg, who is based in Wisconsin, previously reported for the Ho-Chunk Nation newspaper, Hocak Worak. She went to school originally for nursing, but changed her major after finding her passion in communications at Western Technical College in Lacrosse, Wisconsin.