#ICommitOSD - Orange Shirt Day (Sept 30)

Posted: September 14th, 2020

Tikinagan Child & Family Services is encouraging the 30 First Nations and the urban areas they serve in northwestern Ontario to acknowledge Orange Shirt Day on September 30, an annual event in which people are encouraged to wear orange in an effort to open the door for global conversation on all aspects of Residential Schools.

The theme this year of Tikinagan’s campaign is “Honour the Journey: Commit to Reconciliation.” Tikinagan invites the community to use the hashtag #ICommitOSD and show their support by taking pictures of their orange colours on September 30 on social media. By sharing the message, they can help promote healing and reconciliation of survivors and the concept that “Every Child Matters.”

Thelma Morris, Executive Director of Tikinagan, says acknowledgements like this help with reconciliation.

“By wearing orange, people can stand together with Indigenous peoples and honour the journey of resilience our peoples have made. Without the strength, courage, and hope of our peoples, agencies like ours would not exist. We are a community-based child and family wellbeing agency rooted in and accountable to the First Nations communities we serve because of the visionaries who fought hard against adversity to retain our rights and culture as First Nations.”

Morris adds Orange Shirt Day is also opportunity for schools and adults alike to learn about Indigenous history in Canada, specifically the events that took place from the 1870s to the 1990s in Residential Schools. In 2008, the Canadian government issued an official apology. Orange Shirt Day is a day for survivors to be reaffirmed that they matter, and so do those that have been affected.

“The past hurts of our communities are still felt today. Healing and reconciliation is an important part of helping our families and communities. But we are all treaty people. This is a day for all Canadians to create bridges with each other for reconciliation.”

September 30 was chosen because it is the time of year in which children were taken from their homes to residential schools, and because it is an opportunity to set the stage for anti-racism and anti-bullying policies for the coming school year. This month, Tikinagan is launching anti-bullying and anti-cyberbullying campaigns with local partners, including NAN, SLFNHA, and the police. Contests to create a slogan and logo for the campaigns will take place in First Nation communities.

The Orange Shirt Society was formed in Williams Lake by the founders of Orange Shirt Day to encourage and support communities to recognize Orange Shirt Day and to support reconciliation events and activities. Their goal is to create awareness of the individual, family and community inter-generational impacts of Indian Residential Schools through Orange Shirt Day activities. To learn more Orange Shirt Day, visit orangeshirt.org.