Orange Shirt Day: September 30th

September 30 is an annual day to recognize and raise awareness about the residential school system in Canada, join together in the spirit of reconciliation, and honour the experiences of Indigenous Peoples. Between the late 1800s and 1996, more than 150,000 First Nations, Métis and Inuit children attended Indian residential schools – Orange Shirt Day commemorates this legacy.


UBC’s Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre (IRSHDC) seeks to raise awareness about Orange Shirt Day and its meaning to affect positive change within the UBC community by providing opportunities and approaches to reflect on complex historical legacies, personal experiences and community.

Origins of Orange Shirt Day:

“The colour orange has always reminded me of that, and how my feelings didn’t matter, how no one cared, and how I felt I was worth nothing.” Phyllis Webstad

Six-year-old Phyllis Webstad was excited about her first day at St. Joseph’s Residential School in Williams Lake, B.C. in 1973. Her granny had bought her a new, bright orange shirt for the occasion. But when she proudly arrived at the church-run residential school, she was stripped of her clothes, and her hair was cut. Her new shirt was taken away and she never got it back.

Phyllis is Northern Secwpemc (Shuswap) from the Stswecem’c Xgat’tem First Nation (Canoe Creek Indian Band). Today she is the Executive Director of the Orange Shirt Society, which encourages local school districts, organizations and the general public to wear orange and discuss the legacy of residential schools annually.

The annual Orange Shirt Day commemoration on September 30 is an opportunity to discuss the effects of Residential Schools and the legacy they have left behind.

The date was chosen as it is the time of year when children were taken from their homes to residential schools. It also marks the beginning of the school year, and reaffirms that “Every Child Matters.”

To learn more about Orange Shirt Day: Click Here.