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National Truth and Reconciliation Day 2023

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On September 30th we will recognize National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. This is a day where we must support Indigenous communities and come together in honouring, acknowledging, and recognizing those affected by the residential school system that harmed countless people across generations and the entirety of Canada. 

This day came out a movement dubbed ‘Orange Shirt Day’ because of the orange shirts people would wear as a symbol of the culture and the children that were lost to the residential school system.

Orange Shirt Day has become an important opportunity to open up dialogue on anti-racism and anti-bullying. This day is meant to also encourage deeper reflection, learning and public dialogue on the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples.

History of the Orange Shirt

It grew from Phyllis Webstad sharing her story in 2013 of having her shiny orange shirt taken from her at the age of six when she arrived at St. Joseph Mission residential school. Her story created an opportunity for discussion on the aspects and experiences of the residential school legacy. It occurs in early fall because this is the time of year when children were removed from their families and forced to attend residential schools.

The residential school era began in the early 1870s, with the last school closing in 1996. More than 150,000 Indigenous, Métis and Inuit children attended these schools. There are an estimated 80,000 survivors living today.

Across Victoria there are a few events commemorating and recognizing this day.

Truth and Reconciliation Week 2023 Public Lunch and Learns

Where: Online
 September 25-29, 10:30 - 11:20 am
Cost: Free
Website: Eventbrite

This year, the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation will offer a series of free virtual lunch and learn sessions throughout Truth and Reconciliation Week 2023 to facilitate learning for Canadians on topics related to Truth and Reconciliation. These daily lunch sessions (50min) will feature a range of speakers and will provide audience members with the opportunity to ask questions and engage in further conversations.

Every Child Matters Book Launch with Phyllis Webstad

Where: Songhees Wellness Centre
 September 17, 1:30 - 4:00 pm
Cost: $10
Website: Eventbrite

Phyllis's brave and compelling voice has brought attention to the need for education, empathy, and understanding about the mistreatment of Indigenous Peoples in Canada, while fostering important conversation about the ongoing efforts to address historical and generational trauma, and work toward a more inclusive and equitable future for Survivors, families and Indigenous communities. With her new book Every Child Matters being released in August 2023, Phyllis talks about what Every Child Matters truly means and what wearing the Orange Shirt truly represents.

Truth before Reconciliation: Unsettling British Columbia’s History of Schooling and Settler Colonialism

Where: Newcombe Hall, Royal BC Museum (and online via Zoom)
 September 24, 2:00 - 3:00 pm
Cost: Free
Website: RBC

In this talk, Dr. Sean Carleton will speak about his new book, Lessons in Legitimacy: Colonialism, Capitalism, and the Rise of State Schooling in British Columbia, which examines government-assisted schooling in the province for Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples – public schools, Indian Day Schools, and Indian Residential Schools – in one analytical frame. Carleton explains how church and state officials administered different school systems that trained Indigenous and settler children and youth to take up and accept unequal roles in the emerging social order. 

Orange Shirt Day

Where: The Quad, University of Victoria
When: September 29, 11:45 am
Cost: Free
Website: UVic 

UVic is committed to reconciliation. We're working to foster truth, respect and mutual understanding with all Indigenous peoples and communities. On September 29th the UVic community will come together in the Quad to listen, learn and share.

Reconcile: Candid Truth from Survivors

Where: St. Ann's Academy
September 30, 4:30 - 7:00 pm
Cost: Free
Website: Eventbrite

Come bare witness to the impact of colonial harm, displacement and what it means to reconcile in today's world. Let us examine how this legacy shapes the environment we face today as Indigenous people, and explore the continuity of the oppressive systems that have harmed us since first contact. This event will be held in the historic building of St. Ann’s Academy, a place that has held an order of nuns responsible for running notoriously heinous residential institutions. By hosting here we hope to reclaim the stories lost to time, to fill its halls with the voices and accounts of those who have survived, and continue to survive today with the legacy of colonization and religious indoctrination at our heels.

South Island Powwow

Where: Royal Athletic Park 
 September 30, Doors 10:00 am, Grand Entries 12:00 pm and 6:00 pm
Cost: Free
Website: Songhees Nations

Everyone is welcome. The annual South Island Powwow is an opportunity to recognize Survivors and their families in the spirit of reconciliation. Through song and dance, we will celebrate traditional Indigenous cultures and resiliency. First Nations far and wide, have been welcomed to join us on this day to celebrate in our time-honoured powwow.


If you find that you need emotional support after engaging with National Truth and Reconciliation Day material, there are some services available.

Indian Residential School Survivors Society Crisis Line
Providing emotional support and crisis counselling to Indian Residential School Survivors, Intergenerational Survivors and their families.
24/7 support: 1 (800) 721-0066
National crisis line: 1 (866) 925-4419

The Vancouver Island Crisis Line
24-hour crisis line service to Vancouver Island the islands of the Georgia Strait, and the mainland communities between Powell River and Rivers Inlet, as defined by Island Health. It operates 365 days a year. Crisis workers provide short-term non-judgemental emotional, support, crisis intervention, information and resources.
Toll-free Line: 1-888-494-3888

KUU-US Crisis Line Society
The KUU-US Crisis Line Society is a non-profit registered charity that provides 24 hour crisis services through education, prevention and intervention programs.
Adults/Elders: 250-723-4050
Child/Youth: 250-723-2040
Toll-free Line: 1-800-588-8717

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