Orange Shirt Day: Reflect, learn and act towards Truth and Reconciliation

September 30th is Orange Shirt Day and the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. It is a day to honour Intergenerational Survivors of the Indian Residential School system and to commemorate those who didn’t return home.

Between the late 1800s and 1996, more than 150,000 children were taken away from their families and placed into a traumatizing system of oppression that worked to erase their culture and identities. 

The UBC Equity & Inclusion Office stands together with and in support of Indigenous community members at UBC and Indigenous communities broadly and reaffirms our commitment to supporting decolonization and Indigenization efforts at UBC. 

Today and every day, I invite non-Indigenous community members at UBC to engage in intentional learning about the harmful history of the residential school system, the legacy it has left behind and the work ahead that’s needed on the path to truth and reconciliation.

To commemorate this day, events are taking place at UBC and across Canada. Many of these events provide an opportunity to learn this history, including through deeply moving stories as told by survivors sharing the truths of their traumatic experiences inflicted through systematic abuse – survivors like Phyllis Webstadt, the founder of Orange Shirt Day. 

I encourage non-Indigenous students, faculty and staff to engage with empathy and humility in the many of the activities taking place to commemorate this day and to commit to continuous learning and reflection as to what you can do to support healing and to advance truth and reconciliation. 

Explore opportunities to engage with Orange Shirt Day and truth and reconciliation through events and resources at UBC Vancouver and UBC Okanagan and build your competencies related to reconciliation, Indigenization and decolonization, including through the Weaving Relations course (developed by the Faculty of Applied Science) that explores Indigenous histories, people and contexts, as well as settler colonialism in Canada, through the lens of Indigenous-Canadian relationships. 

Every child matters.

Sincerely and respectfully, 

Arig al Shaibah 
Associate Vice-President, Equity and Inclusion