Orange Shirt Day, which coincides with National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, lands on Saturday, September 30th this year, so Camosun College has planned a day for students on campus to participate in recognizing the day earlier in the week.
This year, the college is encouraging all students to wear an orange shirt this Thursday and Friday, September 28th and 29th.
On Thursday, there will be a ceremony held at the Lansdowne campus at Na’tsa’maht, the open-sided structure on their grounds which was inspired by traditional Coast Salish designs.
Their students and faculty will have the opportunity to honour survivors of the Indian Residential School system and commemorate those who didn’t make it home.
“Orange Shirt Day and the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is a time for the college community to come together and honour residential school Survivors,” says Todd Ormiston, Director of Eyēʔ Sqȃ’lewen.
“It’s one of the most powerful and ceremonial days of the year on campus.”
The guest speaker and leader of this year’s ceremony will be Dr. Barney Williams, a residential school Survivor and Knowledge Keeper from the Nuu-chah-nulth Nation and the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation.
Dr. Williams has been a leader in Indigenous communities for years. He has been a committee member for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission from 2008 to 2015,and he was the recipient of the 2023 Lieutenant Governor’s BC Reconciliation Award.
His area of expertise is as a healer in the mental health field which he approaches from a traditional perspective.
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- The South Island Powwow set to take place this month at Royal Athletic Park
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In order to work toward achieving meaningful reconciliation, Camosun is collaborating with surrounding Indigenous communities to bring more people together to think about how their programs can improve.
Sandee Mitchell, Indigenous Studies Program Leader and Elders Coordinator at Eyēʔ Sqȃ’lewen says bringing allies into the fold is an important step in the right direction.
“This year we’re asking how allies can be more involved in the planning and organizing of Orange Shirt Day at Camosun and we’re thinking about next steps,” said Mitchell.
“We appreciate that groups like the English department’s Indigenization committee have come to us to offer support, and we’d like to invite more allies into the community.”
In addition to wearing orange shirts and attending the ceremony this Thursday, Camosun is encouraging students to take the time to learn and reflect as an act of reconciliation.
To aid in this process, they have updated library resources, including an Orange Shirt Day research guide along with adding books and other media recommendations on the topic of meaningful reconciliation.