Orange Shirt Day

Orange shirt day bear paw, NDTR federal images

September 30th is Orange Shirt Day and the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

September 30th is Orange Shirt Day and the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. It is a day to reflect on the history and legacy of residential schools in this country and in our province. Newfoundland and Labrador had five residential schools and the legacy of those schools continues to this day. There were four in the Labrador communities of Cartwright, Makkovik, Nain, and Northwest River, and 1 in the Newfoundland community of St. Anthony.

Orange Shirt Day was started by residential school survivor Phyllis Webstad in 2013. It is an Indigenous led initiative to recognize and raise awareness of the intergenerational impacts of residential schools on individuals, families and communities.

The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation was created by the federal government in 2021, fulfilling the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) Call to Action #80: We call upon the federal government, in collaboration with Aboriginal peoples, to establish, as a statutory holiday, a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation 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.

Schedule of Events


There will be resource tables set up at 5 different locations across the St. John’s campus. The resource tables will include an engagement opportunity that we encourage everyone to participate in. Space will be provided to write down any thoughts, questions, or ideas you may have concerning reconciliation and what you as a member of the Memorial community can do to further it. Resources available will include information on the TRC, residential schools, smudging, and lighting the Kullik. There will be education session about the Kullik as part of International Inuit Day programming in November.

The resource tables are located:

  1. Engineering Building - main floor, lobby
  2. QEII Library - main floor lobby
  3. University Centre - 3rd floor, by the Clock Tower entrance
  4. Business Building - RBC Atrium
  5. Bruneau Centre - main floor lobby


Five smudging ceremonies and lessons will take place across campus. Participation is voluntary, but we encourage everyone to take the time to observe, listen, and learn. Smudging is a First Nations purification ceremony involving the lighting of sacred medicinal plants. Smudging often happens in spaces in which First Nations knowledges are shared. Through these smudges we seek to familiarize the Memorial community with the practice and its significance. Smudging is also one of many traditional practices residential schools actively disparaged and disrupted in the effort to assimilate students. The final smudging ceremony will be followed by a brief talk about reconciliation, and a campus walk from the Bruneau Centre to Juniper House to tie orange ribbons.

  • 9:00am - Smuding ceremony and lesson in the Business building, RBC Atrium
  • 10:00am - Smudging ceremony and lesson in the Engineering building lobby
  • 11:00am - Smudging ceremony and lesson in the QEII Library (main floor lobby)
  • 12:00pm - Smuding ceremony and lesson outside the University Centre by the clock tower (3rd floor, The Loft if it rains)
  • 2:00pm - Smuding ceremony and lesson in the Bruneau Centre (main floor lobby), followed by a conversation session about reconciliation.
  • 3:00pm - Campus walk starting at the Bruneau Centre, ending at Juniper House (208 Elizabeth Ave)

All students, staff and faculty are invited to participate in or observe the smudging cermonies and lessons, and to attend the educational walk hosted by the Indigenous Student Resource Centre and the Office of Indigenous Affairs. 

Wearing or displaying orange is a symbol of solidarity with those who survived residential schools and an act of remembrance for those who never made it home. There are buttons available at the resource tables, and orange shirts available to purchase at the Bookstore (UC-2006, all proceeds will be donated to First Light)


This day is an opportunity for us all to reflect on the historic and current injustices faced by Indigenous Peoples and to learn about what we can do to live up to the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action. Truth and reconciliation are the responsibility of every Canadian. However, there cannot be reconciliation without truth telling. Truth is the hardest part, as it means learning about the difficult history, purpose, and impacts of residential schools in Canada. We encourage you to explore the following resources to learn more:

Other online resources for reflection and education on Orange Shirt Day and the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation: