Orange Shirt Day and National Day for Truth and Reconciliation Events in Victoria

Orange Shirt Day and National Day for Truth and Reconciliation Events in Victoria
Event organizers Eddy Charlie and Kristin Spray spoke to the importance of raising awareness about residential schools at the 2022 Xe Xe Smun’ Eem-Victoria Orange Shirt Day: Every Child Matters Ceremony at Downtown Victoria, BC. Photo from: City of Victoria.

Over the course of more than 150 years, approximately 150,000 First Nation, Inuit and Métis children attended residential schools, the last of which closed in 1996. Administered by religious organizations and churches and funded by the Canadian government, these schools were designed to assimilate Indigenous children to Euro-Canadian culture. Thousands died, and Canada’s long, dark history of residential schools continues to affect Indigenous communities today. 

Every year, September 30 marks the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and the Indigenous-led Orange Shirt Day. These events raise awareness about the intergenerational impacts of Canada’s residential school system, while honouring the Survivors of and children who never returned from residential schools, as well as their families and communities.

Here are some of National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and Orange Shirt Day events happening in and around Victoria.

Orange Shirt Day and National Day for Truth and Reconciliation Events in Victoria
Residential school Survivor Eddy Charlie and his friend Kristin Spray, organizers of the Xe Xe Smun’Eem (Our Sacred Children) Victoria Orange Shirt Day ceremony in downtown Victoria. Photo credit: Government of B.C.

Orange Shirt Day Gathering
Make your way to UVic’s quad field for a commemorative gathering. 

Friday, September 29
11:45 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
3800 Finnerty Rd, Victoria, BC V8P 5C2

Holding Ground Exhibit

At the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, experience the Indigenous-led Holding Ground Exhibit, which, through the works of Indigenous Intergenerational Exchange artists, examines Indigenous resistance.

Saturday, September 30
12 to 5 p.m.
1040 Moss St, Victoria, BC V8V 4P1

Reconcile: Candid Truth From Survivors 

At St. Ann’s Academy and Auditorium, watch Tim Wolochatiuk’s We Were Children, a film that examines the residential school system through the eyes of two children. Afterwards, listen to Elders Patrick Stephenson (Pakayagun) and Aldeen Mason share their experiences.

Saturday, September 30
4:30 to 7 p.m.
835 Humboldt St, Victoria, BC V8V 4W8

Truth and Reconciliation Day Ride

Hop on your bike at Songhees Park and ride parade-style with Diane Sam of Songhees First Nation as she talks about the land we live and play on and the impacts of residential schools. The bike route, which ends at Royal Athletic Park, will be closed to cars.

Saturday, September 30
9:15 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.
Songhees Walkway, Victoria, BC V9A 6T3

South Island Powwow

At Royal Athletic Park, honour the Survivors of and children who never returned from residential schools, as well as their families and communities, and watch Indigenous groups celebrate their culture through song and dance. Last year, 10,000 people attended the event. 

Orange Shirt Day and National Day for Truth and Reconciliation Events in Victoria
The South Island Powwow brings together South Island First Nations and the public for a ceremony honouring the the resiliency of Indigenous culture. Photo by Samantha Dean, supplied by the Songhees Nation.

Saturday, September 30
10 a.m. to midnight
1014 Caledonia Ave, Victoria, BC V8T 1E8