Orange Shirt Day will be commemorated at Camosun on Thursday, Sept. 28, 2023 with an afternoon ceremony at Na’tsa’maht on Lansdowne campus to honour residential school Survivors and those who didn't return home.
“Orange Shirt Day and the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is a time for the college community to come together and honour residential school Survivors,” says Todd Ormiston, Director of Eye? Sqa’lewen: The Centre for Indigenous Education & Community Connections (IECC) at Camosun. “It’s one of the most powerful and ceremonial days of the year on campus.”
Dr. Barney Williams, residential school Survivor and Knowledge Keeper from the Nuu-chah-nulth Nation and the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation, will be the guest speaker at this year’s event. He was a committee member for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission from 2008 to 2015, and he received the 2023 Lieutenant Governor’s BC Reconciliation Award. A well-known healer and therapist, Dr. Williams’ area of knowledge is mental health from a traditional perspective.
“Orange Shirt Day is a way to acknowledge the people who didn’t survive residential schools and the people who did survive, and to celebrate the resilience of Survivors,” says Sandee Mitchell, Indigenous Studies Program Leader and Elders Coordinator at Eye? Sqa’lewen. “This year we’re asking how allies can be more involved in the planning and organizing of Orange Shirt Day at Camosun and we’re thinking about next steps. We appreciate that groups like the English department’s Indigenization committee have come to us to offer support, and we’d like to invite more allies into the community.”
“Reconciliation and Indigenization are deeply held values at Camosun,” says Lane Trotter, President of Camosun College. “Orange Shirt Day is an opportunity for the community to witness, listen and reflect on how we can continue to paddle forward together with the same vision on our journey towards greater acceptance and healing.”
Orange Shirt Day is inspired by Phyllis Webstad’s story of her experience of having her new orange shirt taken from her in 1974 when she arrived at the Mission residential school. Indigenous Studies students Eddy Charlie and Kirsten Spray brought the event to Camosun and initiated Victoria Orange Shirt Day in 2015.
Camosun encourages students to wear an orange shirt on Sept. 28 and 29, and to take the time to learn and reflect as an act of reconciliation. To learn more about survivors’ stories and Indigenous perspectives, the Library has assembled an updated Orange Shirt Day research guide for 2023 with book and other media recommendations.
Na’tsa’maht: The Gathering Place, Lansdowne campus
Students, community members, and media are invited to witness and participate in this significant ceremony remembering the residential school experience.
1pm: Gather at Na'tsa'maht. Lansdowne Campus
1:30pm – 3pm: Orange Shirt Day ceremony