U of T Scarborough honours the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and Orange Shirt Day

Every Sept. 30, Orange Shirt Day is honoured around the world. This day was created by residential school survivor Phyllis Webstad to give voice to the thousands of First Nations, Inuit and Metis children, and recognize their pain and their truth as residential school survivors.  On this day, we join in the international call that Every Child Matters.


On Sept. 30 we also recognize the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.


While the University of Toronto will remain open on Sept. 30, the Orange Shirt Day and the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation planning team encourages U of T Scarborough students, faculty, and staff to take time on this day to reflect and to consider individual and collective actions in response to the 94 Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the final report of the University of Toronto’s steering committee, Answering the Call: Wecheehetowin. This year, U of T also announced that it will cover tuition for students from nine First Nations communities as part of its commitment to improving access and relations. 


For Indigenous-related programming, check out the  Indigenous Outreach Program that works to support students, staff and faculty on and off campus while striving to inspire inclusive excellence.

About Orange Shirt Day

The story of the orange shirt began when Phyllis (Jack) Webstad was taken to residential school at the age of six. Her orange shirt, bought by her grandmother, was taken from her along with her hair, language, culture, community, and rights. Phyllis’s story has grown into the Orange Shirt Society which supports Indian Residential School Reconciliation; creates awareness of the individual, family, and community inter-generational impacts of Indian Residential Schools; and creates awareness of the concept of “Every Child Matters.”

For Indigenous members of our campus community and their families, September 30 may be a particularly difficult day. We encourage students, staff, faculty, and librarians to take the time they need on this day. For faculty who are teaching, we encourage you to be flexible in your planning, particularly around scheduled assessments, both to support students’ and your own accommodation needs, and to create space for reflection and learning. 

We encourage U of T Scarborough students, staff, faculty, and librarians to take time on this day to reflect and to consider individual and collective actions in response to the 94 Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the final report of the University of Toronto’s steering committee, Answering the Call: Wecheehetowin, and the recommended actions of the UTSC Campus Curriculum Review Working Circle.  

Explore and register for U of T Scarborough Truth and Reconciliation Week events in 2023

Several initiatives will take place at U of T Scarborough and the tri-campus University of Toronto in the days leading up to 30 September to celebrate Indigenous excellence, support learning, and facilitate shared conversations in the spirit of reconciliation—including the importance of confronting difficult truths as the crucial first step in that process. Thanks to the UTSC Library; the Department of Sociology; Information & Instructional Technology Services Audio Visual, Facilities Management, First Nations House, and the UTSC Bookstore for coordinating these opportunities. They include:  


Wednesday, September 27 - U of T Indigenous Book Club (Part 1), 12pm-2pm, Catalyst Centre, EV151-152

Learn about books, podcasts, and other media by Indigenous peoples of Canada. Join the U of T Indigenous Book Club in person for Part 1 to support the University's commitment to Truth and Reconciliation. The event will include a sharing circle where participants will select 3 items to read or listen to for Part 2, taking place on Thursday, 9 November. The book club meetings provide a safe and welcoming space for engaging with


Indigenous knowledge and narratives, and you will have the opportunity to learn from Indigenous leaders and experts. By integrating the book club into courses, offering bonus marks, or promoting it to students, faculty will actively contribute to increasing awareness and understanding of Indigenous cultures, histories, and contemporary issues. For more information – Register online.


Wednesday, September 27 - Orange Shirt Day: A Critical Reading Event, 1pm-3pm, First Nations House, St. George Campus (UTSC Students welcome)

Join an in-person, collaborative event between Academic Success and First Nations House, where participants will explore a critical reading process aimed at improving critical reading skills and reading comprehension. Engage with a supportive learning community and gain insight into the importance of Orange ShirtDay by participating in a sharing circle guided by two Indigenous staff members, Carol Ducharme and Elizabeth Jeffrey. A light lunch will be provided, along with Orange Shirts, courtesy of the Office of Indigenous Initiatives. This event will include smudging, involving the burning of sacred herbs. For more information to attend in this in-person event if you are a UTSC student, contact Rahul Bhat to be manually registered.


Thursday, September 28 - Orange Shirt Beading Workshop, 2:30pm-4:30pm, MW130 (Kina Wiiya Enadong Building)

This hands-on orange shirt beading workshop offers an opportunity for Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples to have healthy conversations about the Indian Residential School system in Canada. All people are welcome, and no previous experience is necessary. Participants will learn about the practice/tradition of beading, while listening to stories of Indigenous peoples as they bead. The workshop is facilitated by Indigenous students from U of T Scarborough. Participants will be provided with all the materials and instruction to create a beaded pin of an orange shirt that they can keep. The workshop will begin with a smudging ceremony. Participants must have use of their hands/fingers as some fine motor skills are required for beading. This workshop is not accessible to some people with visual impairments. For more information – Register online.


Friday, September 29 – Indigenous Garden live stream, Sunrise to sunset – YouTube

Once again, this year the Office of the Vice-Principal Academic & Dean is partnering with the Department of Sociology, Information & Instructional Technology Services (IITS), and the Campus Farm to set up a livestream of the Indigenous Garden to enable reflection for members of the campus community. Faculty teaching on that day are welcome to include it in their classes – Indigenous Garden livestream.


Friday, September 29 and Saturday, September 30 – Every Child Matters Flags Lowered, All day, all U of T campuses

The ‘Every Child Matters’ flag has been raised on all three campuses as part of our university-wide recognition of Orange Shirt Day and the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. All flags will be lowered to half-mast on 29 and 30 September to acknowledge this important day.


Ongoing resources and accessing orange shirts

Reading List

UTSC Library staff and librarians have curated a list of resources to encourage learning and reflection on pat events, but also to support action toward our shared responsibility for reconciliations. For more information – Orange Shirt Day: National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

Orange Shirt Day tees

UTSC Bookstore has the U of T 2023 Orange Shirt Day Tee available in a range of sizes. This year's shirt features artwork by MJ Singleton, the winner of a tri-campus design contest. MJ is an Ojibwe, two-spirit student from Migisi Sahgaigan First Nation who is currently studying at the University of Toronto's Mississauga campus. Their design, titled noojimo’iwe, emphasizes the importance of healing the intergenerational trauma of residential schooling by supporting and loving those around you. $10 from the sale of each shirt will be directed to the Orange Shirt Society. For departmental orders, contact Tammy Little, UTSC Bookstore Manager.

Indigenous Initiatives Newsletter

Stay up-to-date on Indigenous Initiatives and programming by signing up for the new Indigenous Initiatives UTSC newsletter – the first edition goes out on October 5.