It’s a Canadian thing, but we do it here in Minnesota, too

It’s Orange Shirt Day, “Canada’s National Day for Truth and Reconciliation,” when we honor the indigenous children who were sent to residential schools. Do you mind if some Americans elbow our way into the event, too? It’s what we do.


  1. planter says

    Glad we can export something positive. I think back to when I was in elementary school in British Columbia in the 1980s. We learned nothing about First Nations, residential schools, just about fur traders. Now my kids in grades 4 and 7 know far more and understand far more than I did even in my 20s. This isn’t going to fix things, but it certainly moves things in a positive direction.

  2. says

    I was a high school kid in Saskatoon in the early ;80s and as far as I can remember teaching anything about Indigenous people was minimal. Certainly nothing was taught about residential schools, and if it had it probably would have been little more than “Lots of Indian kids used to go to boarding schools, but that really doesn’t happen much anymore. They don’t need to do that these days.”

  3. macallan says

    I need to start doing something like that here in eastern TN. Cherokee territory, trail of tears and all. The name is still all over the place but that’s pretty much it.

  4. timmyson says

    I learned nothing about residential schools in school, ever, and even so much has come out in the news. Learning about it through my kids (now early grades, having done it for a few years) has been so eye-opening. I got to chaperone one of my kids’ classes on a visit to an indigenous-run farm, and I’ve still got so much to learn about indigenous culture and indigenous mistreatment by my ancestors and my government up to the present day. It breaks my heart every time there’s a new grave discovery, or I hear a new story about the mistreatment of these children.

    We, Canadians, are happy to share this journey with you and lighten the burden in however small a way on the indigenous people getting the recognition of this genocide and trying to heal.

  5. Silentbob says

    Countdown to Morales popping up to recommend the day be rededicated to the queen because she’s dead unlike the descendants of those pesky natives. Anyway, white people were sometimes mean to each other so it’s fine.

    (Yes I know – reset button – don’t bear a grudge… sorry PZ.)

  6. birgerjohansson says

    Orange is a good color for clothes if you are as easily distracted as I am and put aside a jacket or cardigan and forget where you put it.

    The Sami are indigenous to Scandinavia but although they were badly treated the Rom were treated worse.
    And the ethnic Finns at the border- their kids were banned from speaking anything else than Swedish in school.

  7. moarscienceplz says

    Dang! I wore my orange shirt yesterday (for real).
    I was, umm … heralding today! Yeah, that’s totally what I was doing!
    Seriously though, this is a good idea. I’ll have to see if I can do a better job celebrating Indiginous People’s Day (October 10 this year).

  8. StevoR says

    Australia also badly needs to have an Indigenous People’s Day to honour & acknowledge our First Peoples here.

    Plus a National Sorry Day to commorate the horror of what was done to them.

    We can easily replace the (SA state) Adelaide Cup Day and (national I think?) Queen’s (Kings now I guess) Birthday public holidays with those more significant ones.

    Oh and we need to change the date of “Australia Day” (26th Jan) a.k.a. Invasion Day too. (See also : ) Historically, it wasn’t even when the so-called First Fleet (full of convicts and their jailers and a British governor for a then colony of New South Wales that then stretched to the Torres Strait*) actually arrived – the first ships (Supply) turned up over a week earlier. (18th- 19th Jan 1788) Nor was it when first Europeans arrived – perhaps the Portugese possibly back in distant “Java la Grand’ days or, more certainly, the Dutch back in 1606 with Jansz Duyfken voyage. Nor even the first Europeans to stay permanently in Oz (2 mutineers marooned from the Batavia shipwreck) nor even the merely the first Brit to land on now Aussie then New Holland shores. (William Dampier, explorer / privateer / pirate1688. See :

    Anyhow. yeah,. Canada is far from alone here and Indigenous Peoples everywhere deserve better and deserve recognition and respect.

    .* See : Umm.. African settlers wiki What the ..?!?

  9. StevoR says

    @9. moarscienceplz : You think that’s a typo ..

    (Points to pretty much every comment I’ve ever made here. .. Sighs and blushes.)

    With apologies to the Crocodile Dundee movie.

  10. keithb says

    I don’t know if it is a permanent exhibit, but the Pueblo Cultural Center in Albuquerque had a good exhibit on Indian Schools. (I think we should get Albuquerque and Phoenix to change the name of “Indian School Boulevard” since each has one. I can see Albuquerque changing the name, I am not sure about Phoenix)

    Now would be a good time to visit, you can see Balloon Fiesta, too. 8^)

  11. jenorafeuer says

    I went to elementary school in British Columbia in the last 70s, and we at least got taught about the multiplicity of the First Nations in the area (granted a lot of the names we were taught like ‘Nootka’ aren’t really used anymore either). This was in Central Saanich, just north of Victoria, and they were just building the Longhouse exhibit at the British Columbia Provincial Museum (now the Royal British Columbia Museum) at the time, so that may have influenced that. In fact, one of my classmates at school was the son of one of the people doing a lot of the traditional carving and design for the exhibit.

    We definitely weren’t taught anything about residential schools, and even the museum exhibit didn’t go into much about that; I wouldn’t really find out much about just how much the First Nations culture was suppressed until years later. That started with a play about the life of Emily Carr, the painter who did a lot of travel up and down the coast and worked with the various Indigenous people there (her biography uses her nickname, ‘Klee Wyck’, which means ‘The Laughing One’). One of the later scenes of the play involved her being at a potlatch when it was shut down by a recently-passed law that banned the practice.

  12. NitricAcid says

    I went to elementary school in Alberta in the late 70s/early 80s, and in Grade 4 we spent a lot of time on the “Plains Indians” (as they were referred to then), along with the white explorers of the area. Nothing about residential schools of course- a fair bit about how they lived pre-treaty, the treaties themselves, and how happy they were to have the Mounties to protect them from American whiskey traders.

    Yes, I realize how very, very whitewashed it was.

  13. planter says

    @jenorafeuer Interesting. I grew up in the central Interior so a bit different environment and culture. Most of the historical sites we visited as kids were either old fur trade posts, or gold rush era places like Barkerville. Those certainly did not have much on the indigenous peoples of the area.

  14. chrislawson says

    StevoR — those days exist, but they’re not official. I agree absolutely that we need to have a National Sorry Day as a public holiday, and Australia Day needs to move to a non-insulting date.

  15. chrislawson says

    Yep, anyone with any understanding of human history would know that migration is a standard human behaviour and always has been.

  16. unbelievingdwindler says

    I wore my orange shirt today. Proud to say I received it from my previous employer on north Vancouver island KCC.

    When I was hired by K’awat’si Construction Corporation, on my first day of orientation I watched a video which detailed some of the treatment of the Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw by the government which included forced relocation from their homeland on the mainland to the island because it was more convenient for the government administration.

    I have being doing a lot of work on First Nations land and am currently employed by First Nation owned business based out of northern Alberta. I haven’t planned that, I just seem to keep lucking out. Currently in Kitimat/Terrace, BC on Haisla land.

    I have been privileged to make many friends and experience a lot of generosity from Denesųłįné, Inuit and others and I am thankful for their friendship which they have given to me.

    We had a site wide minute of silence today at work.

  17. John Morales says

    Climate aside, Canada and Australia are rather similar in their history since, um, settlement by Europeans. Rapacity and brutality, supported by better technology.

  18. Silentbob says

    We had a similar thing in Australia (of course). Indigenous children forcibly removed from their families to be ‘assimilated’. This was official policy for most of the 20th century. Indigenous people call it the ‘Stolen Generations‘. A government report in 1997 admitted this had been an act of genocide.

    My grandmother and her sisters were taken from Burnt Bridge and interned at the Aboriginal Girls Training Home at Cootamundra. The persistent effects that had on my Nan manifested in peculiar ways. She woke and obsessively cleaned where ever she was in the hours before daybreak. She did this until the day she died. She was also obsessive about her own family’s personal appearance. Aunty Marion recalled the conditions for the ABC following the National Apology in 2008, “It was shocking in there… we were made to get out at 6 o’clock in the morning and scrub the cement in summer or winter. They told us it was to take the savage out of us.”

    Oh well nevermind. What about the Queen? She died at 96! Isn’t that sad? Let’s have a public holiday to express how sad we are.