Skip to main content

Ontario Tech University observes National Day for Truth and Reconciliation September 30

Orange light illuminated Ontario Tech University's Software and Informatics Research Centre to observe the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation (September 30, 2021).
Orange light illuminated Ontario Tech University's Software and Informatics Research Centre to observe the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation (September 30, 2021).

Between 1883 and 1997, an estimated 150,000 Indigenous children across Canada were forcibly taken from their families and placed in residential schools, with a federal government objective of cultural and religious assimilation. Over the past several months, the recovery of lost children in unmarked graves at these schools has sparked a national reckoning over the painful history of Canada’s former residential school system.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) spent years collecting survivors’ stories and creating a historical record of the residential school system. The TRC’s final report in 2015 contained 94 calls to action to address this legacy and advance reconciliation between Canadians and First Nations, Métis and Inuit Peoples.

This June, in response to one of the TRC’s calls to action, the federal government passed legislation making Thursday, September 30 the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. This declaration coincides with Orange Shirt Day, founded in 2013 by Phyllis Jack Webstad as a grassroots effort to raise awareness of the tragic history and ongoing legacy of residential schools. For some context on the history and significance of September 30, watch Ontario Tech’s Orange Shirt Day video.

On September 30, Ontario Tech University observed the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation as a day of recognition, remembrance and respect for survivors of residential schools, and a day to learn about the intergenerational impacts residential schools have had on Indigenous communities. The university will annually observe this day.

Between Monday, September 27 and Thursday, September 30, to the campus community participated in the events and opportunities that Indigenous Education and Cultural Services (IECS) and the President’s Reconciliation Task Force planned in partnership with Durham College. These included a suggested self-directed learning plan with resources for you to access on the days leading up to the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, or any time as well as a non-meeting day to allow a day of learning, reflection and respect.

In addition, the campus community showed its support by wearing orange shirts, with many purchasing orange t-shirt made by Nish Tees, an Indigenous-owned business. Nish Tees will donate proceeds from their Orange Shirt Day t-shirt sales to Sage and Sunshine, an Indigenous culture-based school. In addition, to honour the children who did not come home from residential schools, survivors and their families, the university lit the exterior of its Software and Informatics Research Centre with the colour orange.


“The Ontario Tech community is committed to listening to the voices of Indigenous Peoples as we continue to work towards implementing the recommendations of the TRC report, and addressing systemic barriers facing all Indigenous Peoples. As we move toward reconciliation and healing, let us honour the lives of survivors, their families and communities. We cannot build a trusting future without an honest dialogue and recounting of an unspeakable past.”
-Dr. Steven Murphy, President and Vice-Chancellor, Ontario Tech University