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Orange Shirt/Ribbon Day

Monday, September 30, 2019 - 09:00

Residential School History

Residential schools began in 1831 with the Mohawk Institute in Brantford, Ontario. The goal of the residential schools was to assimilate Indigenous children into English society. These schools were government funded and church run. In total, about 150,000 First Nation, Inuit and Métis children went through these schools. The last school to close was the Gordon Residential School in Punnichy, Saskatchewan.

Orange Shirt Day and Every child matters

Orange Shirt Day is a national movement for Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians to recognize and honour former residential school students and their families. September 30 has been chosen as the date because that is the time of the year that the children were taken from their families and forced to attend residential schools.

This day received its name in recognition of a survivor who shared the story of her new orange shirt being taken away from her on her first day of school at the St. Joseph Mission in Williams Lake, B.C. Phyllis Webstad was only six years old when she was sent to the Mission. Her granny bought her the shirt for her first day, but it was taken from her when she arrived. In her words, “the color orange has always reminded me of that and how my feelings didn’t matter, how no one cared, and how I felt like I was worth nothing.”

This year, UNIFOR Local 4504 will be sending orange ribbons out to every member. We encourage you to wear these ribbons to commemorate the families and the communities impacted by the residential schools.


If you are interested in purchasing a t-shirt for yourself and/or your family member(s) please see below.

Last year, Nelson donated more than $8,000 to the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation through their sale of Orange Shirts. This year, Nelson is doing the same and the design this year was created by Kalum Teke Dan, a Blackfoot artist and a member of southern Alberta's Blood Tribe.  He is self-taught and has been painting for 26 years.  His stunning work reflects a spirituality and realistic look at First Nations culture and traditions.  He gathers his inspiration from people he's met and respects for their inner strength and cultural pride. 

If you are interested in purchasing a shirt, they have an English Language Version and a French Language Version.  The only difference is whether “Every Child Matters” on the shirt is in English or French.  This year’s shirt is 100% cotton, made in Pakistan at an FLA identified factory. Shirts are available in Youth XS to Large and Adult Small to 3XL 

To purchase online, visit

The shirts sell online for $9.95 + tax which includes the cost of shipping anywhere in Canada and they will donate $1.00 to Jordan’s Principle.