The University of Windsor is committed to reconciliation. We're working to foster respect and mutual understanding with all Indigenous peoples and communities. You can partner in the work of reconciliation by listening, learning, and sharing on Orange Shirt Day.
What is Orange Shirt Day?
Orange Shirt Day is a national movement and annual event in Canada. During this day Indigenous and non-Indigenous people come together in the spirit of hope and reconciliation to honour residential school survivors, their families, and communities.
Take time to learn about the impacts of the policies and actions of the Government of Canada and the churches that operated the schools. We listen to the stories of survivors and their families and remember those that didn’t make it home.
The observance of Orange Shirt Day on campus is Friday, September 29th, 2023.
Residential school survivor, Phyllis Webstad began observing this day in Williams Lake, BC in 2013 at the St. Joseph Mission (SJM) residential school commemoration event at which told the story of her shiny new orange shirt that was taken away from her on her first day of school at the SJM.
Orange Shirt Day occurs in early fall because this is the time of year when children were removed from their families and forced to attend residential schools.
The residential school era began in the early 1870’s, with the last school closing in 1996. More than 150,000 First Nations, Métis and Inuit children attended these schools. There are an estimated 80,000 survivors living today.
Hear Our Stories
Orange Shirt Day is an annual event held each September 30th in remembrance of the Canadian Residential School system and the impact of this government policy on First Nations. Phyllis Webstad presents her memories of Residential schools and the meaning of Orange Shirt Day.
Susie Kicknosway Jones shares her experiences with us as a First Nations person and a Christian. She reflects on her life, the suffering she had endured, and how she lives now as a survivor of the residential school system and a follower of Jesus.
Gregg Deal is a husband, father, artist and a member of the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe. As a provocative contemporary artist-activist much of Deal’s work deals with Indigenous identity and pop culture, touching on issues of race relations, historical consideration and stereotype. With this work—including paintings, mural work, performance art, filmmaking and spoken word—Deal critically examines issues within Indian country such as decolonization, the Native mascot issue and appropriation.
Annie's personal experience contextualizes her talk, which focuses on the importance of family and community in overcoming traumatic experiences.
This list is being updated as more events from the community are submitted. Check back here for updates!
August 31, 2023 to September 30, 2023
Location: Main Stairwell, Leddy Library, University of Windsor
The Orange Shirt Day installation at the Leddy Library was conceived of by Marcie Demmans (BA Communications '09) and represents the thousands of young souls who didn’t make it home from residential school and have returned to the creator in the spirit world. Located in the Library’s main stairwell, it contains roughly 6,000 small orange shirts strung together to acknowledge the unofficial number of unmarked graves of Indigenous children that have been uncovered. A single strand of shirts was added on August 31, 2023, and like the Indigenous children who were ripped from their families over time, more shirts are added each day leading up to September 30th, Orange Shirt Day. While the installation can be viewed from a variety of angles, we invite you to observe it from the bottom of the stairwell. Turn your head to the sky and see the souls returning to the spirit world. Take a moment to remember, reflect, and commit to reconciliation.
The Library is also promoting virtual resources that include:
- Featured Collections: Residential School Experiences Suggested Readings (Leddy Library) This Featured Collection highlights books and videos on experiences at Residential Schools in the Leddy Library collection. Fiction, biographies, and children's books are featured in this collection. A more comprehensive list of resources related to Residential School is available through a course resources list.
- Interactive Map: Missing Children of Indian Residential Schools (Leddy Library), is a story map created by Leddy Library's geospatial data analyst, Carina Luo, that uses data collected from the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement (IRSSA) and the TRC (Truth and Reconciliation Commission report) and geographic information system (GIS), to provide a visual representation of the 139 Indian residential school locations across Canada as well as document the search for missing children from those schools.
Monday, September 25 and Wednesday September 27, 2023, from 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Join Jaimie Kechego for Let’s learn about the importance of Orange Shirt Day. This workshop will focus on how Orange Shirt Day (Sept. 30), began and what it’s grown into nationally. There will be an exploration and discussion of what this day means to Indigenous peoples and non-Indigenous peoples.
September 29, 2023 at 1:15 p.m.
Location: West entrance of the Law School Building, University of Windsor
Join Windsor Law in acknowledging and honouring those who attended Residential Schools. We will honour the Spirits of Survivors and those who did not come home by gathering outside of the West entrance for a moment of remembrance and the Orange Shirt Day Heart Photo.
Saturday, September 30, 2023 at 10:00 a.m.
Location: Art Windsor-Essex, 401 Riverside Drive W, Windsor
Join us for the annual Orange Shirt Day on September 30th where we open the door to global conversation on all aspects of Residential Schools. It is an opportunity to create meaningful discussion about the effects of Residential Schools and the legacy they have left behind. A discussion all Canadians can tune into and create bridges with each other for reconciliation. A day for survivors to be reaffirmed that they matter, and so do those that have been affected. Every Child Matters, even if they are an adult, from now on. - Orange Shirt Society
September 30th, 1:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.
Location: King’s Navy Yard Park, 245 Dalhousie Street, Amherstburg
Bring your lawn chairs as we gather in the King’s Navy Yard. Programming includes: storytelling, drumming, indigenous vendors, children’s activities, and orange shirts for sale.
More Ways to Get Involved
Email Signature: Add Orange Shirt Day to your email signature.
Support Indigenous Students on Campus
Support Indigenous students at the University of Windsor by purchasing an Orange Shirt Day t-shirt, a lawn sign or a Campus Community Cookbook. All proceeds donated will support the Indigenous students at the University of Windsor.
T-shirts, lawn signs, and cookbooks will be sold at pop up booths on the following dates / locations / times:
- Downtown Windsor Farmers’ Market on Pelissier Street north of Wyandotte Street from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays Sept. 16, 23, and 30;
- Ed Lumley Centre for Engineering Innovation from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 20;
- Toldo Lancer Centre from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 27; and
- CAW Student Centre from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursdays, Sept. 21 and 28.
Adult T-shirts in sizes from small to triple extra large cost $25; youth sizes from extra small to extra large cost $20. First and second editions of the Campus Community Cookbook cost $30. Lawn signs — available in Ojibway, Oneida, and Lenape — cost $25; buttons are sold by donation. For bulk order please email: email@example.com
Still interested in contributing?
You can also support our Indigenous students by donating to the Geoffrey H Wood Native Bursary endowment.
Geoffrey H Wood Native Bursary endowment is for students who are of Aboriginal ancestry (status, non-status, Metis, Bill C31, Innu, and Inuit), maintain satisfactory academic standing, and demonstrate financial need.
Healing and Support
If you find that you need emotional support after engaging with Orange Shirt Day material, there are some services available.
24-hour crisis line for survivors and family of survivors.
Provides free, confidential professional counselling for UWindsor students, available by phone or chat in 35+ languages. Can ask to speak with a counsellor who has an identity that aligns with yours (e.g., BIPOC, 2SLGBTQ+, etc.).
Thank you to our Orange Shirt Day Sponsors