Honouring Orange Shirt Day/ National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, Saturday September 30, 2023
“When you wear an orange shirt it’s like a little bit of justice for us Survivors in our lifetime, and recognition of a system we can never allow again.” -Phyllis Webstad
Orange Shirt Day/ the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, is an important public space for truth telling and for commitments to challenging ongoing colonization. The Orange Shirt Day society offers leadership for this important space, as all of Canada joins in efforts to honour, remember, and change.
As part of our church’s living into the Apologies, let’s join with others to help ensure the ongoing history and impacts of the residential schools system are never forgotten- and that together, we bring about real change. United Church resources are now available here, and include a new prayer for the children.
Please make plans for Sunday worship on September 24; Sunday October 1 is also an important space for naming the ongoing violence facing Indigenous women, girls, and Two Spirit people in preparation for October 4, National Day of Action for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG).
Please read on for ideas for participating and ideas for why we participate. Thank you for any prayerful space and public commitments you and your ministry can offer.
Participating in a good way
Indigenous direction and leadership
Please look for gatherings and events in your community, especially those led by local Indigenous groups or First Nations. Come out in support, and look into how your community of faith can offer support. Events will be listed here. Look for local listings too. Planning your own event? List it here. And, check your local media and social media, as well as local First Nations, Métis or Inuit groups.
Be intergenerational/ all ages: this is about children and youth, but all ages can make a good contribution. We’re all needed. Teachers, group leaders, and caregivers, have a look at this resource for teachers and students Grades 1-12. 2023 learning spaces to support our work are offered through the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation.
Be public with your support
What commitments are you ready to make as a faith community, and what can you express or support publicly? How can you use your home, church building, school, and more to express your commitment? Think about shirts, signs, banners, art, gathering space, hosting a gathering, and more.
Consider whether your church building can be a physical home for a community expression of support for residential school survivors and their communities, and of the reality that some children never came home. This work would need to center on local First Nations, Metis, or Inuit people giving you direction. It will mean fully sharing your space. If you offer, engage your community of faith fully, and be prepared to take full direction from First Nations, Metis, or Inuit partners.
Do careful research when buying Orange Shirt Day items
2023’s official art design is by Grade 10 student Charliss Santos from Ponoka, Alberta. Many groups may do their own design, too.
Please support Indigenous-run groups and artists wherever possible. Some larger non-Indigenous sellers may also be selling t-shirts and flags under license from the Orange Shirt Day Society; please verify as you can. Please don’t create and sell your own t-shirts for charity unless you’re working with a local Indigenous-run group. Be especially cautious on social media. Once your account knows you’re interested in September 30, you may see dozens of ads selling orange merchandise. Always check who is selling it.
Why Orange Shirt Day?
It’s an important space that residential school survivors offer everyone. Let’s accept that invitation.
As the United Church, we have made commitments to supporting truth as an essential part of real reconciliation. You can read more about those commitments here. Among the most important words guiding us on that journey are those from members of the Indigenous church, including the Caretakers’ Calls to the Church and the Apologies.
The Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission are also a trail up a very big mountain, as is the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. And those of you who have participated in the Blanket Exercise have supported a call to education from the 1996 Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples Report.
All of these, and more, hold and shape our commitments for both the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation, and for October 4, the day to honour missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, and Two Spirit people and work for an end to the violence. May we as faith communities and Canadians uphold our responsibilities to Indigenous people and communities with courage whenever and however we can. May we listen to each other with open hearts and spirits.