The purpose of National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and Orange Shirt Day is to memorialize and raise awareness of the children lost to the residential school system and honour survivors and their families. The day is for schools, workplaces and communities to honour those affected by the legacy of residential school policies, similar to how Remembrance Day is observed across the province.

The holiday was first observed federally in 2021, on a date chosen to coincide with Orange Shirt Day, named to commemorate a story told by Phyllis Webstad, whose prized orange shirt was taken from her on her first day at St. Joseph Mission Residential School near Williams Lake. This annual campaign began in 2013 after Webstad shared this experience at a reunion with other survivors.

On March 9, 2023, the Province of British Columbia passed legislation to make September 30 a statutory holiday. Enshrining National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in B.C., the new law designates time for more people to reflect on the history, impact and legacy of the residential school system on September 30th each year. The B.C. law honours the strength and resilience of residential school survivors and remembers the children who never came home.

The government’s decision on the holiday is in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s call to action No. 80, which requested the federal government establish a holiday to honour residential school survivors, their families and communities. The feds established a holiday for their workers in 2021.

Orange Shirt Day is an Indigenous-led grassroots commemorative day intended to raise awareness and to promote the concept of “Every Child Matters”. The orange shirt is a symbol of the stripping away of culture, freedom and self-esteem experienced by Indigenous children over generations attending residential schools.

The orange shirt is a symbol of Indigenous Peoples’ incredible resilience and lights the path towards solidarity with non-Indigenous allies. It symbolizes a united commitment to forging meaningful Indigenous and ally connections and representing hope and a commitment to journey collectively towards reconciliation.

More British Columbians will be able to get involved in advancing reconciliation by participating in local commemoration or education events and having important conversations with their families, friends and in their communities.

Advancing reconciliation requires courage, commitment and ongoing effort to build meaningful connections with Indigenous Peoples’.

Compiled by Audry Durham 

West Kootenay events: 

Castlegar Coins invites community members to stand with them in houour of the children who attended residential schools. September 30 Orange Shirt Day 1801 Connors Road Castlegar 12:00 – 2:00. If you are interested in volunteering on this day, please reach out to

Selkirk Castlegar Campus will host a flag raising of The Every Child Matters flag designed by Ktunaxa artist Carol Louie from noon to 12:25 pm.

Kootenay South Metis Society invites community members to stand with them on Orange Shirt Day September 30 in front of the Trail & District public library 1505 Bay Ave, Trail 11:00 am – 2:00 pm.

The Autonomous Sinixt will be hosting an event and workshops on September 30 from 10:00 am – 4:00 pm at the Nakusp Gazebo. This event will have 3 different workshops, artisans, arts and crafts activities for children, and tea and bannock. Anyone wishing to volunteer or needing more information can call 250-265-8020.

West Kootenay Métis Society are hosting a gathering from 11am-3pm at the Lakeside Park Rotary Shelter in Nelson. Donations will be accepted for local and Indigenous charitable organizations. Snacks and drinks will be provided. Any Indigenous vendors, artists, and supportive local social service organizations that are interested in a table or in speaking can contact the organizer, elder Don Courson at 250.551.1780 (call or text) or

Free screening of ‘Bones of Crow’ at the Nelson Civic Theatre on September 30 at 719 Vernon St for National Truth and Reconciliation Day starting at 4:00 pm.

The 1st ever Movement is Medicine Elephant Mountain Challenge is a 15-kilometre race and acts as a fundraiser for the Circle of Indigenous Nations Society. Run, hike, or walk for reconciliation! The challenge starts at Lyon’s Bluff –> CBC Tower –> Flagpole –> Pulpit –> Lakeside Park.


Coquitlam Events:

First Nations Artist and Educator, Christine Mackenzie is hosting “All my Relations,” a free drawing and painting activity centered on the importance of the cedar bough. Located at Place des Arts from 1:00 – 4:30 on September 30th, the event is appropriate for all ages.

The Coquitlam Public Library is offering space for reflection and learning at the Glen Pine Pavilion (1200 Glen Pine Court) from 12:30 – 3 on September 30. There will be resources on Truth and Reconciliation, video showings, light refreshments and children’s crafts. “Birth of a Family,” a free 45-minute film appropriate for ages 13+, will be shown at 2:00.


National Day for Truth and Reconciliation to become a statutory holiday in B.C.



New children’s book by Orange Shirt Day founder, Phyllis Webstad explains ‘Every Child Matters’ meaning

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