Observing the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

Since 2013, September 30 has been commemorated as Orange Shirt Day across what is now known as Canada in honour of the Survivors of Indian Residential Schools. This year, September 30 will also be designated as National Day for Truth and Reconciliation (NDTR). The date was declared a statutory federal holiday with the passage of Bill C-5 in June of this year, in response to Call to Action 80 of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC). 

The Office of Indigenous Initiatives (OII) welcomes the fulfilment of Call to Action 80, as it represents an opportunity to heighten focus on the history of Indian Residential Schools and the findings of the TRC. We invite all students, faculty, and staff to join in observance of NDTR across the campus, in the knowledge that advancing Truth and Reconciliation is a responsibility that belongs to everyone. 

Read 12 Ways to Engage in Reconciliation at Western 

Explore the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's official reports and 94 Calls to Action here.

For faculty wishing to bring awareness of NDTR and Residential Schools in their classrooms, we have created an information package with explanations, definitions, resources and suggested activities for students for you to use as you see fit. Find "Engaging with NDTR in the Classroom" under Initiatives > Learning & Development. 

Observation of Orange Shirt Day and NDTR at Western 

To observe Orange Shirt Day and NDTR at Western, OII has prepared a series of events that will span the entire day. In support of efforts to raise awareness and education, special events will commence with a flag-raising ceremony and conclude with the illumination our campus in orange light.  

OII encourages everyone on campus to wear orange on September 30. You can purchase orange shirts from the Western Bookstore, as well as locally from Atlohsa and Rezonance Printingnot-for-profits that provide services and entrepreneurial opportunities for Indigenous Peoples in London, ON. 

We hope that everyone at Western will participate in one or more programmed events designed to promote reflection on the history and legacy of Indian Residential Schools and the critical importance of working for Truth and Reconciliation. 

Below you will find an tentative overview of events to commemorate the NDTR on September 30. 
Note that public health guidelines apply to all gatherings.

About our Orange Shirt Day Logo

Every Child Matters Logo - baby in cradleboardDesigned by Shana Elijah of Oneida Nation of the Thames, the logo features a baby wrapped in a moss bag, in a tikinagan (Cree) also known as a cradleboard (English). Shana describes the graphic as "a baby lovingly wrapped up in a cradle board. It goes along with the theme of every child matters. If we could, we’d have a cradle board for every child. It takes a lot of work to make one and decorate it for each child representing their family in the stitches, design and beadwork."

Going forward, we will be using this logo for Orange Shirt Day and to symbolize Truth and Reconciliation at Western.

Cradleboards were common in Anishinaabe, Cree and Haudenosaunee communities, keeping babies comfortable and swaddled while allowing them to be leaned up against a tree or rock so that their mother could still go about daily tasks, but the baby could still hear, see and smell everything around them. In many Indigenous cultures, we are taught babies learn from observing, before they are old enough to participate in community by doing. This cultural practice, like many others, was demonized and considered unhealthy for the baby by settlers and discouraged - however many people continued to use them regardless, and still use them today.

We would like to think of the work we do in Indigenous education is akin to building that tikinagan - reclaiming a safe place to learn and understand the world, rooted in Indigenous ways of knowing and being - for the youth, the next generations, as we work collectively to heal the impact of colonization on our communities and Peoples. 

Starting the Day off in a good way

Watch Lan^stalukwas Elijah & Kay^thoke Honyust, Oneida Nation of the Thames youth, give an abbreviated version of the Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Address, followed by an explanation by Haudenosaunee Knowledge Keeper Lo·t^t Honyust. 


National Day for Truth and Reconciliation Events September 2021






Biindigen: Indigenous Learning Circle

With the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation coming up on September 30, Biindigen offers an opportunity to explore the concept of "reconciliation" at Western, and on personal levels, by engaging with the Indigenous Strategic Plan, TRC Calls to Action, and Indigenous scholar Leanne Simpson's thoughts on reconciliation.


Register online here


10 a.m.  -

01/10  3 p.m.

Raising of Orange Flags for the week

In-person: Concrete Beach/IGAB



Attendance is open to all 


Laotsya:n - Truth and Reconciliation Edition.

Posted on OII Website

Subscribe to receive quarterly newsletter here


4 p.m.

Indigenous Voices: Indigenous Child Welfare,The New Residential School

Guest: Grand Chief Joel Abram 

Online: Zoom Event

Registration is open here.


9 a.m. 

Haudenosaunee (Oneida) Thanksgiving Address 


Online: IG: westernu_indigenous

Broadcast on Western social media channels 

View the video above this schedule, or on Youtube, here



10 a.m. 

Presentation: “Understanding Residential Schools and Reconciliation”—Professor Cody Groat 

Online: Zoom and Facebook 

Register for the Zoom session here


12-4 p.m.

Sacred Fire 

In-person: near Music BLDG/Talbot 



In honouring our original teachings as Indigenous people and acknowledging the emotional labour attached to work within colonial spaces, we will hold sacred fire to ensure that we take care of ourselves and our responsibilities to creation. Non-Indigenous allies are welcome to attend the fire as well from noon until dusk, the Chief Fire Keeper of the Eastern Doorway Midewiwin Lodge and Three Fires Confederacy, Virgil Tobias will be taking care of this space during this time.


12 p.m. 

Radio Western NDTR Radio Special
Hosts: Vanessa Ambtman-Smith & Sharon Giroux

 Online and on air

Radio Western 

Tune in: FM 94.9 
Listen live online

Archived here.


6 p.m. 

7 p.m.

Selection of short films from the National Film Board

Indigenous Film screening: Rhymes for Young Ghouls

Music Tent at the Base of UC Hill 

Attendance is open to all

Limited seating, register now

Warning to viewers: these films contain violent/disturbing scenes of abuse and genocide. 



Illumination of campus with orange lights 

In-person: Alumni Hall & University College



Attendance is open to all 

Updates to Information  

OII will provide detailed communications surrounding the plans for September 30 as we get closer to the date, including coverage of the day on social media.  

Please revisit  this page for updates. We also ask that you help to raise awareness of the day by sharing information with fellow students, colleagues, family, and friends.