National Day for Truth and Reconciliation & Orange Shirt Day

A 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 acknowledges that the campus is on the traditional Lands of the Xwsepsum (Esquimalt) and Lekwungen (Songhees) ancestors and families. With gratitude, we live, work and learn here where the past, present, and future of Indigenous and non-Indigenous students, faculty and staff come together.

Honouring Indigenous resilience

To honour the strength and resilience of Indigenous Peoples, Royal Roads University is observing National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and Orange Shirt Day on September 30. 

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.

This year, 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.


September 30 allows us to honour the lives lost to residential schools, brought so painfully to our minds and hearts by the revealing of unmarked graves of Indigenous children.

The Tk'emlúps te Secwépemc Nation has offered a lesson on the Secwépemc Honour Song and invites everyone to drum and sing at 2:15 p.m. on September 30. 

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

An orange shirt with a heron and medicine wheel on the front and "Every Child Matters" on the back. Artwork by Songhees Elder, Butch Dick, a member of the RRU Heron Peoples Circle..

RRU 2021 orange shirt with artwork by Songhees Elder Butch Dick

Royal Roads is honoured to have a new Orange Shirt Day design with artwork by 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.

Share a selfie...and 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.

Register for weeklong events hosted by the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation

The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation is hosting a series of online events open to the public. The weeklong schedule of events includes historical workshops, videos, artists and more. Register to gain access.

Aboriginal Peoples Television Network

To welcome this day of remembrance, Aboriginal Peoples Television Network is offering a full day of programming to raise awareness about the significance and meaning of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. Read the news release.

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.