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Recognizing Orange Shirt Day and National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

September 30, 2021, marks the eighth anniversary of Orange Shirt Day. Orange Shirt Day originates from the story of Phyllis Webstad from the Stswecem’c Xgat’tem First Nation. In 1973, on her first day at St. Joseph’s Residential School in Williams Lake, BC, Phyllis’s shiny new orange shirt was stripped from her, never to be seen again.

40 years later, on September 30, 2013, Phyllis spoke publicly for the first time about her experience and began the Orange Shirt Day movement. Since then, every September 30th, Canadians across the country wear orange and participate in events to recognize and raise awareness about the history of the residential school system in Canada. The news this past summer of the remains of children found on the grounds of several former residential schools only heightens the importance of reflecting on the system’s legacy and intergenerational effects.

Not only will Canadians be recognizing Orange Shirt Day on September 30th, it will also be the inaugural National Day for Truth and Reconciliation – a statutory holiday to honour residential school survivors, their families and communities. The creation of a statutory holiday was Recommendation Number 80 in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission: Call to Action Report, and was created through legislative amendments by the Parliament of Canada.

The Law Society of Newfoundland and Labrador is committed to promoting reconciliation with Indigenous peoples through the continual implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action and the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and the LGBTQ+ National Inquiry’s Calls for Justice. In keeping with this, our office will be closed on September 30th.

September 30th is an excellent opportunity to explore the rich and diverse cultures, voices, experiences and stories of Indigenous peoples. We encourage everyone to wear an orange shirt and learn more about what you can do to recognize Orange Shirt Day.