National Day for Truth and Reconciliation & Orange Shirt Day

A orange banner that reads: "Every Child Matters. National Day for Truth and reconciliation & Orange Shirt Day, September 30." The artwork is a heron in front of a medicine wheel. Art by Songhees Elder Butch Dick.

Royal Roads University is located on the traditional Lands of the Lekwungen-speaking Peoples, the Songhees and Esquimalt Nations.

Honouring Indigenous resilience

To honour the strength and resilience of Indigenous Peoples, Royal Roads University observes Orange Shirt Day and the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation Sept. 30. 

ANSWER2 Drum Group performs at the 2021 gathering for National Day for Truth & Reconciliation.

For generations, residential school survivors, their families, and their community members have been sharing their stories about the impacts of the Indian Residential School System that operated in Canada from the 1870s to 1996. They did so again during the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. One of the commission's 94 calls to action was for a national day to honour Indigenous children in residential school — those lives that were lost and those who survived.

The federal government has designated Orange Shirt Day on September 30 as a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation has identified Truth and Reconciliation Week from September 27 to October 1.

At Royal Roads, we are grateful to the Elders and Old Ones of the Heron People Circle, who guide us forward and advance our commitment to implementing the Calls to Action and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People in an Indigenization plan.

A message from Lekwungen Elder Dr. Butch Dick

2023 RRU events

Sept. 27: Film & Dialogue Event hosted by the Diversity Action Group

Join us for three short films and dialogue to support learning about the ongoing impact of colonialism in Canada and actions we can take toward reconciliation.

  • Who: This event is open to all students, faculty, staff and members of the community. 
  • When: Sept. 27 from 1 to 2 p.m.
  • Where: Online and in person. Join us in Sequoia Building room 322 (no registration required) or register for the online screening

Sept. 28: Lunchtime screening of Changemakers Speakers Series with Hon. Jody Wilson-Raybould

Please note, this is an internal event for RRU faculty, staff and students. Please check your email for details.

Join us for a lunchtime screening of our recent Changemakers Speakers Series with the Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould, followed by time for open reflection hosted and facilitated by Prof. Geo Takach. 

2023 community events

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Raising the Survivors' flag

The orange Survivors’ flag with symbolic elements chosen by Survivors. Read more about it in the text.

This year Royal Roads University will raise the Survivors' flag to honour residential school Survivors and all the lives and communities impacted by the residential school system in Canada. Each element depicted on the flag was carefully selected by Survivors from across Canada, who were consulted in the flag’s creation.

Read more about these elements and Survivors speaking about the significance of the flag.

Orange Shirt Day

Orange Shirt Day originates from the story of Phyllis Webstad from the Stswecem'c Xgat'tem First Nation.

At six years old, Phyllis had her new orange shirt taken from her on her first day attending the St. Joseph Mission Residential School near Williams Lake, BC.

Phyllis shared her story publicly for the first time 40 years later, on September 30, 2013. Her story sparked the Orange Shirt Day movement to recognize the colonial legacy of residential schools and to honour Indigenous Children, Survivors, and their families and communities.

Phyllis Webstad Orange Shirt Day Presentation

RRU Orange Shirt

A person leans against the Boathouse wall at the Esquimalt Lagoon wearing an orange shirt with heron artwork by Butch Dick.

Royal Roads is honoured to have a new Orange Shirt Day design with artwork by Dr. Clarence "Butch" Dick of Lewkungen (Songhees) Nation and a member of the Heron People Circle.

This robust design speaks to the origins of the Heron People Circle and reinforces that Every Child Matters. RRU will share the proceeds with the Indian Residential Schools Survivors Society, Victoria Orange Shirt Day Society, and the RRU Heron People Circle. Limited quantities are available from the Campus Store.

Wear your orange shirt and share your response to reconciliation

RRU invites you to post a photo of you wearing an orange shirt and tag #RoyalRoadsUniversity. We’ll share a few here and on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn.

We encourage you to reflect on two questions and include them in your post:

  • What does the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation mean to you?
  • What is your commitment to reconciliation?
Cristal_Glass-Painchaud wears an orange shirt and takes a selfie. The text beside her reads: "This is an important day because it provides 24 dedicated hours to contemplate the truths that have been shared."

Other ways to take action

Royal Roads community

Participate in an RRU ReconciliAction group and join fellow RRU community members in small groups of action. Contact Roberta Mason to learn more.

Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion resources

More ways

  • Read articles and books by Indigenous authors and learn about the experiences of survivors and their families or host a discussion. (Check the RRU Library or Strong Nations Publishing for inspiration.)
  • Watch movies by Indigenous filmmakers. (Check the RRU Library or Reel Canada for inspiration.)
  • Learn the land acknowledgement in your area.
  • Consider the roles you hold at home and work and how you can contribute to making positive changes that support reconciliation.
  • Talk about and share what the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation means to you and how you are taking action toward reconciliation.
  • Purchase an Orange Shirt from an Indigenous artist or company and wear it year-round.

Do you need support?

If you are navigating trauma or having a difficult time, support is available.

KUU-US Crisis Line for Indigenous People struggling with trauma

Adults/Elders: 250.723.4050

Youth/Children: 250.723.2040

Toll-Free: 1.800.588.8717

Indian Residential School Survivors Society

IRSSS provides essential services to Residential School Survivors, their families, and those dealing with Intergenerational traumas.

Toll-Free: 1.800.721.0066

Fax: 604.985.0023


For the Royal Roads community

For Indigenous students: contact Indigenous Student Services for cultural, personal or other support.

Counselling support for all students.

Counselling support for staff.