September 30, National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, Every Child Matters

What Can You Do on National Day for Truth and Reconciliation?

On July 20, 2021, the Government of Canada announced a new federal statutory holiday to take place annually on September 30 called National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

National Day for Truth and Reconciliation builds upon Orange Shirt Day, which first began in Williams Lake, British Columbia in 2013. Since then, on September 30 every year, Canadians take the day to honour and remember the harm that was done to Indigenous children who were sent away to residential schools in Canada, and to commit to the ongoing process of reconciliation.

The orange shirt in Orange Shirt Day refers to the new shirt that was given to Phyllis Webstad by her grandmother for her first day of school at St. Joseph’s Mission residential school in British Columbia. Upon arriving at school, her clothes were taken away, including her new shirt. Since then, the colour orange has always reminded Phyllis of her experiences at residential school.

Mass Unmarked Graves Found

Earlier this year, between May and July, several unmarked gravesites near many more former residential schools were identified across Canada. Each of the sites contained the remains of hundreds of people believed to be mostly Indigenous children who were forced to attend these schools. The sites that have been found are estimated to hold the remains of more than 1,500 people, with an anticipated 3,000 more that have yet to be uncovered.

The discovery of the mass graves has marked a shift in impact that residentials schools are now having on Indigenous communities across Canada. And what’s become abundantly clear, is that there remains much work to do on our country’s journey toward reconciliation with Indigenous people.

In response to the initial findings at the Kamloops Residential School, as well as the Brandon Residential School and the Marieval Indian Residential School, YMCA Canada issued the following statements:

How Can You Take Part?

Below are lists of resources and local events that we encourage you to participate in, read or watch to learn more and create awareness. On September 30th, wear an orange shirt to visibly show your support and promote the concept that #EveryChildMatters.  

Local Events

Owen Sound


Bruce County


Other Local Acknowledgements

  • The Meeting Place Tobermory is teaming up with M’Wikwedong to provide traditional meals through our Good To Go Guided Meal Program throughout October (available to residents of the North Bruce Peninsula).
  • The Women’s Centre Grey Bruce: Staff and clients are being encouraged to wear orange and attend the Truth and Reconciliation event on September 30th. All staff will be encouraged to have 5 minutes of silence at 12:00pm on that day. 
  • Ontario Disability Support (ODSP) office: cheque day for ODSP clients has been moved to September 29th and the office will remain open with reduced staff on September 30th with staff attending the sacred fire
  • City of Owen Sound will observe this holiday to provide an opportunity to recognize, reflect on and commemorate the legacy of residential schools or participate in a community event. The Every Child Matters Flag will fly at half-mast from September 20 to September 30 at City Hall. 


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