City of Windsor to Mark Orange Shirt Day and National Day for Truth and Reconciliation
September 30, 2023, is Orange Shirt Day, which is the vision of Alkali Lake Chief Fred Robbins, a survivor of residential school. It honours the story of Phyllis (Jack) Webstad, a former residential school student who, on her first day of residential school, had her bright new orange shirt taken away from her. It was given to her by her grandmother, and she was just six years old. The orange shirt has become a symbol of remembrance of all Indigenous children who were removed from their families to attend residential schools where their language and culture were repressed, and many children experienced abuse. The painful legacy of residential schools has had long-lasting effects on residential school survivors and their families.
The day has also been designated National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action #80. The Calls to Action offer important direction for all levels of government, institutions and all Canadians to redress the legacy of residential schools and to advance reconciliation. National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is a day of awareness, a day of remembrance for Indigenous people and a day of education for Canadians. It honours Survivors, their families, and their communities, and it ensures that public commemoration of the history and legacy of residential schools remains a vital component of the reconciliation process.
At The Corporation of the City of Windsor
The City will encourage all municipal staff to use the week of September 25, 2023, to focus on the importance of reconciliation and take steps to learn about and acknowledge the past through various opportunities for participation, including the following:
The “Every Child Matters” flag will be raised at City Hall on Friday, September 29, 2023, at 10:00 a.m. with the Mayor, members of City Council, community partners and staff of the City Hall campus invited to attend;
Windsor City Hall is being illuminated orange in the evenings from September 29 to October 2, 2023;
City staff will be encouraged to wear orange on September 29, 2023, to acknowledge the tragic legacy of residential schools and to honour the victims, their families and friends, and intergenerational survivors;
Each City team will take time on September 29, 2023, to discuss how City services, programs and infrastructure can help address Truth and Reconciliation
City staff will have an opportunity to participate in a Truth and Reconciliation interactive training session September 21, 2023, which will explore the history of Indigenous Peoples in Canada and help gain an understanding of the impact of the Indian Act on Indigenous communities, how the residential school system caused intergenerational trauma, and how we can be better allies to Indigenous Peoples; and
Transit Windsor will tie orange ribbons to bus mirrors and program the head signs on buses with #EveryChildMatters. Additionally, staff will wear orange ribbons, and on-board announcements will be made recognizing the day and the significance of the ribbons.
Museum Windsor – Chimczuk Museum
Museum Windsor’s Chimczuk Museum and Art Windsor-Essex (AWE) will be open and offering free admission on September 30, 2023. The Chimczuk Museum, located at 401 Riverside Drive West, includes the Original Peoples Culture and Legacy Gallery. At the north end of the main floor concourse, this space reflects the culture, heritage and contemporary issues of the local First Nations and Métis communities. It also provides an open and flexible gathering space for programming. This exhibit was developed in consultation with Caldwell First Nation, Walpole Island Heritage Centre, Turtle Island-Aboriginal Education Centre at the University of Windsor, Can-Am Indian Friendship Centre, and other local community organizations. Features of the exhibition include Creation Stories, Treaties, Residential Schools and 60s Scoop, Language Revitalization, Missing and Murdered Women, Medicine Wheel Teachings, and Cultural Expressions.
Windsor Public Library
All branches of the Windsor Public Library will be closed on September 30, 2023; however, displays of Indigenous content and resources will be featured at all branches and online at the Digital Branch throughout the week. Staff have prepared a video on Truth and Reconciliation, and offer the following opportunities for community engagement:
During the month of September, customers are encouraged to pick up a button and bookmark at Riverside Branch in honour of Orange Shirt Day/National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. Bookmarks feature booklists and resources that celebrate First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples.
During the week of September 25 to 29, 2023, visit the library’s Bridgeview Branch from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. daily for their Truth and Reconciliation Video Series. Each day this week, they will screen a 50-minute video centred around Indigenous peoples in Canada, their history, and issues that continue to exist today. These free sessions are provided thanks to the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation.
Also during the week of September 25 to 29, 2023, the Budimir Branch will offer drop-in activities for children that tell the story of Orange Shirt Day and help teach the importance of honouring the children who survived residential schools and remembering those who did not.
Ojibway Prairie Complex
The Ojibway Prairie Complex offers a peaceful backdrop for quiet reflection. Open and accessible to the public, the City encourages everyone to find time to visit these lands and the Ojibway Nature Centre the week of September 25 to 30, 2023, and beyond. The Ojibway Prairie Complex is a collection of six closely situated natural areas within a 10-minute drive from downtown Windsor. The most striking aspect of the complex is the tremendous variety of vegetation and animal life. Wetlands, forest, savanna and prairie provide habitat for a great number of rare plants, insects, reptiles, birds and mammals. Visit www.Ojibway.ca for more information.
Downloadable Colouring Book: The Healthy Headwaters Lab (HHL) at the University of Windsor’s Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research presents the Ojibway Nature Centre Colouring Book illustrated by Mariah Alexander (Baashkooniingad Kwe, which means “buds on the tree beginning to open woman”), an Indigenous artist from Bkejwanong. This project was a partnership between the Ojibway Nature Centre and HHL’s Ode’imin circle to re-introduce Indigenous knowledge and art to the Ojibway Nature Centre. Through this colouring book, Mariah’s art, and the inclusion of Anishinaabe words, HHL hopes this colouring book helps fill the gap in Indigenous Knowledge, introducing a new generation to the rich Indigenous culture in Windsor.
Additional Engagement Opportunities
A community-led Orange Shirt Day committee is hosting a community gathering and walk along the waterfront on Saturday, September 30, 2023. The event begins at 10:00 a.m. in the Vision Corridor alongside Art Windsor-Essex (AWE) at 401 Riverside Drive West, with activities taking place both inside the gallery and in the surrounding outdoor space. The walk will begin at 12:00 p.m., heading along the water to the Ambassador Bridge. For more information, visit the University’s Orange Shirt Day event page. As part of this gathering, Art Windsor-Essex is offering activities starting at 10:00 a.m. in the gallery’s 2nd floor Education Studio led by RBC Emerging Artist in Residence Krystal Bigsky. In this Art Windsor-Essex workshop, Krystal will show participants how to create their own orange shirt pin with felt and beads. At 10:30 a.m., guests can meet the artists and curators from Nii Ndahlohke / I work. The tour will begin at the second floor Education Studio.
City of Windsor Land Acknowledgment
The City of Windsor is situated on the traditional territory of the Three Fires Confederacy of First Nations, which includes the Ojibwa, the Odawa, and the Potawatomie. The City of Windsor honours all First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples and their valuable past and present contributions to this land.
For more information on National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, including additional resources and opportunities for engagement, please visit the Government of Canada’s National Day for Truth and Reconciliation web page.
“Orange Shirt Day and National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is a challenging time for so many members of our community. While it provides the opportunity for all of us to honour First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Survivors and their families and communities, it is particularly difficult for all those whose lives have been impacted by the history of residential schools. To ensure public commemoration of this significant history remains a component of the reconciliation process, I encourage folks to make time to learn about our shared past, and commit to the learning and conversations that will lead to a stronger, more inclusive future for us all. The City of Windsor stands with Indigenous peoples, now and always.”
– Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens
“As we look at the past, present and future we will braid the stories together with kindness and compassion for the loss of the past and the work of the present, to bring hope to our future.”
– Theresa Sims, Indigenous Storyteller for the City of Windsor