This holiday was originally proposed in 2015 by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. This federal statutory holiday was created in response to Action 80, which called upon the federal government, in collaboration with Indigenous peoples, to establish a statutory holiday “to honour Survivors, their families, and communities, and ensure that public commemoration of the history and legacy of residential schools remains a vital component of the reconciliation process.”
This holiday coincides with Orange Shirt Day, which was established in 2013 by the Orange Shirt Society – an Indigenous-led grassroots movement – to recognize the legacy of residential schools. Since 2013, communities across Canada have honoured “Phyllis’ story, which recalls the experience of residential school Survivor Phyllis Webstad, whose new orange shirt was taken on her first day at residential school when she was just six years old. The date was chosen because it was during this time of the year when Indigenous children were removed from their families and forced to attend residential schools.
To mark the day, flags at City Hall and civic centres will be lowered to half-mast and the Toronto sign will be lit orange.
If you would like to learn more about this day, and the Indigenous people of Canada check out the resources below: