Orange Shirt Day: 2022

September 21, 2022 | Jamie

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Orange Shirt Day is September 30th every year. This day reminds us of one of the methods used to assimilate Indigenous communities to non-Indigenous ways. Indian Residential Schools were open for over 160 years, with the last one closing in 1996.

In 2013, after Phyllis (Jack) Webstad shared her experience of having her orange shirt taken away on her first day at an Indian Residential School at an Indian Residential School legacy and reunion event. Her story inspired the Orange Shirt Day movement.

Indigenous communities have lost knowledge and loved ones because of Indian Residential Schools. This gap created by the school system will continue to impact Indigenous communities for generations to come.

Orange Shirt Day helps to amplify the stories of survivors, their families, and of the children who never made it home.

Non-Indigenous communities are still learning about the legacies of Indian Residential Schools. Last year, the federal government of Canada received royal asset to create the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is also on September 30 and is a federal statutory holiday every year starting in 2021. You can read more about it in our blog post for the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation from 2021.

To recognize this day, we are sharing some books in our collection to learn more about Indian Residential Schools and Orange Shirt Day. Within these books, you will learn stories of survival, finding joy in the darkest of times, and resilience. Below we have highlighted three, but there are more books available for all ages in our Orange Shirt Day reading list.

Consider wearing an orange shirt on September 30th, and learning more about Indian Residential Schools with your family and friends.

*Note: Indigenous authors have their nation in brackets next to their name. Unless otherwise noted, credit to images and book descriptions are given to Toronto Public Library's website.



Muinj'ij Asks Why

Muinji'j Asks Why : The Story of the Mi'kmaq and the Shubenacadie Residential School by Muinji'j MacEachern (Mi'kmaw) and Shanika MacEachern (Mi'kmaw), illustrated by Zeta Paul (Mi'kmaw) 

"When seven-year-old Muinji’j comes home from school one day, her Nana and Papa can tell right away that she’s upset. Her teacher has been speaking about the residential schools. Unlike most of her fellow students, Muinji’j has always known about the residential schools. But what she doesn’t understand is why the schools existed and why children would have died there. Nana and Papa take Muinji’j aside and tell her the whole story, from the beginning."


Broken Circle - Commemmorative Edition

Broken Circle : The Dark Legacy of Indian Residential Schools (Commemorative Edition) by Theodore Niizhotay Fontaine (Anishinaabe)

"A new commemorative edition of Theodore Fontaine’s powerful, groundbreaking memoir of survival and healing after years of residential school abuse."

If you can't get a hold of the commemorative edition, we also have editions of Broken Circle from 2010 and 2012.


The Boy from Buzwah

The Boy From Buzwah : A Life in Indian Education by Cecil King (Odawa)

"Cecil King's remarkable memoir, from humble beginnings on a reservation to his unparalleled legacy to ensure Indian Control of Indian Education in Canada."


Interested in reading more stories about Orange Shirt Day and Indian Residential School experiences? Be sure to check out our Orange Shirt Day reading list, which has books and other resources for all ages.