On Thursday, McMaster’s Faculty of Health Sciences joins Canadians across the country in collective solidarity to mark the country’s first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on Sept. 30, also known as Orange Shirt Day. The orange shirt is worn as a remembrance of the story of residential school survivor, Phyllis (Jack) Webstad, who had her new orange shirt taken away on her first day of residential school at the age of six.
This national day of remembrance is meant to educate and raise awareness about the history of residential schools in Canada and the impact they continue to have on Indigenous communities. This day marks our collective responsibility to take action and move this country forward in reconciliation. By wearing an orange shirt, we acknowledge the need for meaningful reconciliation, honour those who have been impacted by Canada’s residential school system and affirm that every child matters.
Many virtual events are taking place across the McMaster campus in commemoration of Orange Shirt Day. Hosted by the Indigenous Health Learning Lodge, Indigenous Studies Program and Indigenous Student Services, these events are in memory of the recently uncovered bodies of children who attended Indian residential schools in Canada and an opportunity to honour the children and families who either lost their lives or were negatively impacted by the residential school experience.
Within McMaster University’s Faculty of Health Sciences, we have an important role to play in remembering these stories and working towards reconciliation to create a more open and just society. I hope you will join me on Orange Shirt Day, and that you take the time to reflect and learn about the history of residential schools as we honour the victims, celebrate the survivors and recognize the ongoing and tragic legacy of residential schools.
Click here for a guide to McMaster’s virtual campus events commemorating Orange Shirt Day, as well as guidance for faculty, staff and learners who wish to take time on this day of recognition to reflect, listen and learn.