Recognizing Orange Shirt Day
September 30, 2021 has been established as Orange Shirt Day to honor residential school system survivors and remember the children whose lives were taken. In OTF’s work towards reconciliation and reciprocity, we will listen to the stories of survivors and their families and support the healing process.
The Orange Shirt Day project was designed to acknowledge the legacy left by residential schools and witness the experiences of the survivors, their families, and communities. By wearing orange shirts, we are participating in the process of change and taking action to support the healing and reconciliation needed to become more inclusive for future generations. September 30 has also been designated as National Day for Truth and Reconciliation by the Canadian government to acknowledge the significance of reconciliation in our communities and work.
This year, we were faced with a harsh reality – but one that Indigenous people have known about and lived through. Since May 2021, more than 1,300 unmarked graves have been uncovered near the sites of former residential schools. This is a profound and important time for all of us – and for our country – to come to terms with the tragedy of residential schools and the effects of inter-generational trauma.
Orange Shirt Day also opens the door to broader conversations about the harm done to Indigenous communities for generations. It’s an opportunity to understand and reflect on the laws that acted to assimilate Indigenous people and had detrimental impacts on First Nations, Métis, and Inuit communities.
“It falls on all people living in Canada to continue the hard work of healing and reconciliation, each in our own way and where possible, together, in our families and communities, in the organizations we work with and belong to, and as a nation. This is an important calling to which all of us are duty bound to respond.” The Philanthropic Community’s Declaration of Action.
As part of OTF’s commitment to ongoing learning and taking action to address the harm and trauma of residentials schools on Indigenous communities, OTF staff will take time to learn and reflect for Orange Shirt Day every year. This year, we will be joined by the Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre at Algoma University to understand more on the history of residential schools.
OTF is committed to diversity, equity and inclusion in our work and our communities. As a signatory to The Philanthropic Community’s Declaration of Action, we support the ongoing healing process and the work needed for reconciliation in the spirit of reciprocity. OTF encourages all Ontarians to do their part through listening and learning from Indigenous communities. Together, we can build healthy and vibrant communities in Ontario and drive positive change for all.