Why do people wear orange shirts on September 30? And what does this beautiful colour  symbolizes?


Orange Shirt Day references a real orange shirt taken from a residential school survivor in Canada.

Phyllis Webstad now 40 years old, tells her story about an orange shirt  she wore with pride on her first day at a church-run residential school in Williams Lake, B.C.  In her story she stated she was stripped of her clothes by school authorities, her hair  cut and her beautiful shirt was taken away. She never got it back. (https://www.orangeshirtday.org/phyllis-story.html)  

“The colour orange has always reminded me of how my feelings didn’t matter, how no one cared.” I went to a treatment centre for healing when I was 27 and have been on this healing journey since then. I finally get it, that the feeling of worthlessness and insignificance, ingrained in me from my first day at the mission, affected the way I lived my life for many years.”

Phyllis Webstad, founder of Orange Shirt Day.
Phyllis Webstad’s story inspired Orange Shirt Day.
Photo courtesy of Phyllis Webstad


The day aims to raise awareness of the residential school system in Canada

More than 150,000 First Nations, Métis and Inuit children attended Indian residential schools in Canada between the 1800s and 1996. Operated by the Canadian government and church organizations. It is estimated that between four to six thousand children died at residential schools.

Wearing an orange shirt reminds us of the impact of residential then and Now

The last of the Residential schools closed in 1996, and as Webstad’s story indicates, many survivors are still coping with the physical and sexual abuse experienced at the schools. The impact of such trauma is still felt through communities today.

Orange Shirt Day honours Indigenous persons and their experiences and celebrate their resilience  and a commitment that - Every Child Matters.