Orange Shirt Day

Orange t-shirt with the text 'Every Child Matters'
2018 design by Carey Newman

About 400 university faculty, staff and students came together in the spirit of hope and reconciliation on Orange Shirt Day, marked at UVic on Sept. 28. Wearing orange shirts to show respect for residential school survivors and their families, the crowd gathered in the quad for a photo before attending a powerful discussion at First Peoples House, “Why art matters to reconciliation,” with Dr. Andrea Walsh (anthropology) and survivors and intergenerational survivors Gina Laing (Uchucklesaht First Nation), April Laing (Uchucklesaht First Nation), Mark Atleo (Ahousaht First Nation) and Lorilee Wastasecoot  (Peguis First Nation).

Moderated by Chancellor Shelagh Rogers, the presentation also featured President Jamie Cassels, who introduced the new name of the Elders’ engagement fund, ITOTELNEW_TEL L- TE: LEARNING FROM ONE ANOTHER. Vice-President Academic and Provost Valerie Kuehne closed the day’s proceedings by inviting everyone to consider what they can do to foster respect and reconciliation in the year ahead.

UVic’s Legacy Downtown gallery also marked Orange Shirt Day by opening the Testify: Indigenous Laws + the Arts exhibition, which runs through Dec. 22.

Nearly 1,500 orange shirts were sold on campus, with the proceeds going to the Elders’ engagement fund and Carey Newman’s Witness Blanket project.

The design for the UVic orange shirt was contributed by artist Carey Newman (Coast Salish/Kwagiulth). Newman is the Audain Professor of Contemporary Art Practice of the Pacific Northwest with the Department of Visual Arts.

September 2018 photos

What is Orange Shirt Day?

Orange Shirt Day has become an annual opportunity across Canada to come together in the spirit of hope and reconciliation for generations of children to come, and to honour the survivors whose families and communities have been impacted by the residential school system.

Orange Shirt Day began in Williams Lake, BC in 2013 at the St. Joseph Mission (SJM) residential school commemoration event and has since spread across the country. The name Orange Shirt Day honours survivor Phyllis Webstad's story of having her shiny new orange shirt taken away from her on her first day of school at the Mission.

The date of the annual event was chosen because it is the time of year that children were taken from their homes to residential schools. Orange Shirt Day has become an annual opportunity to honour the survivors whose families and communities have been impacted by the residential school system. It is also an opportunity to set the stage for anti-racism and anti-bullying initiatives for the year ahead.

The residential school era began in the early 1870’s, with the last school closing in 1996. More than 150,000 Indigenous, Métis and Inuit children attended these schools, with an estimated 80,000 survivors living today.

Learn more at orangeshirtday.org.

Support the ITOTELNEW̱TEL ȽTE: LEARNING FROM ONE ANOTHER fund

The university has established the ITOTELNEW̱TEL ȽTE: LEARNING FROM ONE ANOTHER fund (Elders' engagement fund) to provide meaningful engagement with Elders and opportunities for learning Indigenous ways of knowing for students, faculty and staff. The fund supports events and activities such as faculty seminars, classroom visits, Elder honorariums and meetings off campus with community groups or local First Nations communities. Donate now.

See more videos from the Orange Shirt Day playlist on YouTube.