imagery by Shelby Gagnon that reads "Every Child Matters" with a green braided material and feather

Orange Shirt Day and the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation takes place on Sept. 30, 2023.  Discover our local community events schedule and how you can get involved.

What is Orange Shirt Day? 

Orange Shirt Day is born out of the legacy of the St. Joseph Mission residential school commemoration event held in Williams Lake, BC in 2013. It grew out of Phyllis' story of having her shiny new orange shirt taken away on her first day of school at the Mission and has become an opportunity to keep the discussion on all aspects of residential schools alive annually. 

This day is a time to remember the residential school experience and to honour the healing journey of survivors and their families. Sept. 30 is a day for survivors to be reaffirmed that they matter - Every Child Matters, even the spirit of that child if they are an adult now. 

To learn more about Orange Shirt Day, watch the Orange Shirt Day video.

The City of Thunder Bay is committed to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) of Canada’s Calls to Action and the Thunder Bay Anti-Racism and Inclusion Accord. In the spirit of reconciliation, the City joins others across the country to honour the Indigenous children sent away to residential schools in Canada by recognizing Orange Shirt Day - Every Child Matters annually on Sept. 30.

Sept. 30 has been declared Orange Shirt Day annually, in recognition of the harm that the residential school system caused to Indigenous children's and as an expression of our commitment to reaffirm that every child matters.

This date was chosen because it is the time of year when Indigenous children were taken from their homes to residential schools, which harmed their identity and well-being. Orange Shirt Day provides an opportunity to express our commitment to reaffirm that every child matters.

(Featured artwork by local Indigenous artist Shelby Gagnon)

The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

As of June 3, 2021, a new federal statutory holiday received Royal Assent after it was passed unanimously in the Senate. The first statutory holiday of The National Day of Truth and Reconciliation was recognized on Sept. 30, 2021, and coincides with Orange Shirt Day. The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation will continue to be held on Sept. 30, of each year. 

The establishment of the national holiday is in response to the 80th call to action in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to Action. Reconciliation requires active participation from everyone. The day provides an opportunity to not only observe and commemorate the tragic legacy of the residential schools, but also quiet time to reflect or actively participate in a community activity or event.


Most of this years' events take place on Saturday, Sept. 30, but keep an eye on social media for events occurring all week and throughout the year. Follow us on the Indigenous Relations Facebook Page. (While we strive to be fully accessible, event posters provided by partners may not meet this requirement. For accessible poster content please contact our Indigenous Relations Office at 620-0072.)

Past events 

2022 - Orange Shirt Day / National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

Sept. 30, 2022 events schedule

8:30 am: Reconciliation Run in Support of Mazinaajim Children's Foundation
Boulevard Lake / Host: Dilico

Honouring our Children: Reconciliation Run in Support of Mazinaajim Children's Foundation

Date & Location:
Friday, Sept. 30 - Boulevard Lake

Race Times:
8:30 am - Half Marathon Run
9:30 am - 10km Run
10 am - 5km Run & Walk

Entry Fees:
Half Marathon- $120
10km Run - $80
5km Run/Walk - $60

Every registered participant will receive a medal and t-shirt.

To register visit 

For more information, email 


9:30 - 10:30 am: Survivors Flag Raising Ceremony

Hillcrest Park / Host: City of Thunder Bay

The City of Thunder Bay will raise the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation’s official Residential School Survivors flag at Hillcrest Park to honour the survivors of the Indian Residential School system, and to acknowledge the thousands of children who never made it home.

The event will take place from 9:30- 10:30 am on Friday, Sept. 30, marking the second official National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in Canada. It will be led by a member of the City’s Anishinaabe Elders Council.

Following the guidance of the City’s Anishinaabe Elders Council, we will fly this flag at half mast until the last of the children are found, however long that takes. The site of the flagpole at Hillcrest has a commanding view over the City and surrounding area. On most days, you can spot Anemki Wajiw (Thunder Mountain) and the Nanabijou (the Sleeping Giant), but more importantly an observer can look out over the four directions.

When the flag at Hillcrest Park is raised and to half mast, the flags at City Hall will be raised again to full staff. Out of respect, they have been flying at half mast since the discovery of the first unmarked graves just over one year ago. Flying the Survivors flag at half mast in this manner is an act that recognizes that the Indigenous community here, and across the nation, are still in mourning. Our goal is that it helps contribute, in some small way, to the healing which is needed. It is our hope that every child will one day be found, and then the flag will fly high as a symbol of strength, support, and the incredible resilience of Residential School Survivors.

Next year, the City will construct a sitting area at the location of the flagpole to host future events and to offer those who want it, a place to offer tobacco, hold ceremony, or sit in quiet reflection. Coming soon - concept drawing completed by landscape architects in the City’s Parks and Open Spaces office. 


The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation Survivors Flag

Interested in finding out what the official NCTR Survivors flag stands for and how it was created? Each element represents something and has special meaning. Learn more about the flag.


National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation Survivors Flag


11 am - 12 noon: NAN Walk in Honour of Residential School Survivors and Families

NAN Offices, 200 Syndicate Ave S. / Host: Nishnawbe Aski Nation

Join NAN at their Syndicate Ave S offices for their annual walk. Walk with the group to Pope John Paul II School to listen to speeches about Resilience and Healing and join in a feast. Mental health supports will be available on site. For more information, contact Felicia Sagutch at or call (807) 625-4980. 


1 pm: FWFN Fall Powwow

Anemki Wajiw – Thunder Mountain Powwow grounds / Host: Fort William First Nations

Fort William First Nation will be hosting their annual fall powwow on Anemki Wajiw. Grand Entry is at 1pm.

At this event, the Thunder Bay Museum in collaboration with the Legacy of Hope Foundation will be displaying the “Killing the Indian in the Child” travelling exhibit. Orange shirts will also be available.

A feast will be held at 5 pm and the second Grand Entry will take place at 7 pm. 

Mental health supports will be available on-site.

For more information, contact Gail Bannon, Powwow Coordinator, 


1 pm: ONWA Events (teachings, exhibit, & clinic)

380 Ray Blvd / Host: Ontario Native Women’s Association

ONWA will be hosting a series of land-based and fireside teachings, an exhibit from the Thunder Bay Museum on the history of St Joseph’s Residential School, and a vaccination clinic. All are welcome! 

 2021 - Orange Shirt Day / National Day for Truth and Reconciliation
Thank you for joining us on Thursday, Sept. 30, 2021, for Orange Shirt Day and the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. #EveryChildMattersTbay 

Citizens were invited to join the city in wearing orange to honour the Indigenous children, families and survivors that have been, and continue to be, tragically affected by the legacy of residential schools. Residents could get involved by planting a tree in remembrance, writing a message of reconciliation on social media using #EveryChildMattersTbay, and participating in city-wide events run by the City of Thunder Bay and our partners, including a two-day pow wow on Anemki-Wajiw.   

A moment of silence was held at City Council on Monday, Sept. 27, to honour the children lost to residential schools and their legacy of trauma in Canada. The lights at City Hall also glowed orange for the week.

Artistry of dadibaajimo logo is by: Indigenous local Artist Shelby Gagnon


Special acknowledgement  

We are all greatly saddened by the ongoing news of the discovery of several unmarked graves across the country. In our hearts we know that this is only the beginning, and that the next on-going weeks, months and years we will continue to mourn the lives lost, and will continue to experience feelings of pain and overwhelming sadness from the trauma the tragic legacy of the Residential School systems has left on the hearts of this country. It is with great hope that united together we will stand, we will educate, we will create more awareness and in the spirit of reconciliation we will begin to help one another heal one unmarked grave at a time. Please know that our thoughts and condolences are with all those who have suffered and are continuing to suffer from the tragic legacy of the Residential School system.  


Watch a Recap of Orange Shirt Day 2021


Photo Gallery: Tree Planting Ceremony, Community Booths and Film Screening at Marina Park - Orange Shirt Day 2021

Photo Gallery: City of Thunder Bay Orange Shirt Day Activities 2021 will appear here on the public site.

Tree planting ceremony

The community was invited to join us Thursday, Sept. 30, 10 am, at Vickers Park, for a ceremonial tree planting to remember and honour the children, families, and communities forever impacted by the tragedy residential schools. Mayor Bill Mauro, Councillor Kristen Oliver, Chief Peter Collins, and Elder Kerry McLaughlin, planted a tree at Vickers Park which will be the beginning of a memorial grove. All were welcome to attend. Masks and social distancing were required by all attendees. Cedar seedlings, part of our community tree giveaway, were also distributed at the event for anyone who wished to plant their own tree. 

A videographer and photographer were on-site recording and taking pictures to capture moments of the day during the ceremony.   

Video: Watch the Tree Planting Ceremony - Sept. 30, 2021


cedar tree with the words "Tree Planting Ceremony" showing time and location

Cedar tree giveaway

The City of Thunder Bay invited residents to plant a tree to remember all those who didn’t return home from residential schools and to honour survivors. Planting a tree is a small gesture, but it is a symbol of remembrance and hope. One that lives on for generations. The City  provided cedar seedlings to the community Sept. 27 - 30. Cedar is one of the medicines found on the Anishinaabe medicine wheel that represents healing & protection. For planting information, please read our "How to Plant a Tree" guide so your tree will grow strong and last for years to come. 

We encourage you to post a photo or video of your tree to social media with a message of reconciliation using the hashtag #EveryChildMattersTbay

Watch: Plant a Tree in Support of Reconciliation



Seedling tree pick-up times & locations (Sept. 27 - 30)

Trees were available for pick up Sept. 27 - 30 at the following locations. 

Monday, Sept. 27

  • 12 - 3 pm - Lily St Community Garden
  • 12 - 3 pm - Volunteer Pool Urban Farm

Tuesday, Sept. 28

  • 12 - 3 pm - Lily St Community Garden
  • 12 - 3 pm - Volunteer Pool Urban Farm

Wednesday, Sept. 29

  • 12 - 3 pm - Lily St Community Garden
  • 12 - 3 pm - Volunteer Pool Urban Farm
  • 3:30 - 6:30 pm - Thunder Bay Country Market, Dove Building, CLE Grounds

Thursday, Sept. 30

  • 9:30 - 11 am - Vickers Park


Cedar tree with the words "Cedar Tree Giveaway, Plant a tree in support of reconciliation" 

Film screening of Indian Horse

The City presented a film screening of Indian Horse, Thursday, Sept. 30, 5 - 8 pm, Marina Park Festival Area. Residents were encouraged to wear orange, dress appropriately, and bring chairs and a blanket.

  • Masks required upon entry and when not seated.
  • Registration Required for free tickets.  
  • A videographer and photographer were on-site recording and taking pictures to capture moments of the day during the commemorative festivities.  
  • Prior to the film screening, the City and our partners held an array of fun family activities including rock painting, button making, hand wreath's and more. Activities included local information booths, food vendors, prizes, and take home free giveaways. Beginning at 5:30 pm, family entertainment was provided by:

The Thunder Mountain Drum Group

Thunder Mountain Drum Group Drumming

The Thunder Mountain Singers are international award winning recording artists from Thunder Bay, Ontario. They have travelled throughout North America the past 30 years. They have recorded several studio albums, live albums, compilation albums and collaborated on several music projects.

Thunder Mountain won Indigenous Peoples Choice Music Award - Best Traditional Album, nominated American Music Awards and Canadian Indigenous Awards - Best Album. They won the Thunder Bay Arts and Heritage Award, City of Thunder Bay Exceptional Achievement Award and Wawatay News Arts and Culture top stories of the year.  Thunder Mountain are from the 1850 Robinson-Huron Treaty territory, Treaty 3 Territory and Nishnawbe Aski Nation. They are Anishinaabe, Saulteaux Ojibway and Cree.

Elmer Atlookan - First Nations Flute Player

Elmer Atlookan overlooking the sleeping giantElmer Atlookan is currently residing and working in Webequie First Nation.kan is from Eabametoong First Nation, In the Nishnawbe Aski Nation Territory. He
He has played the flute for over 23 years. He first recorded an album Family First that was recorded in Reno, Nevada 2012. He has toured internationally to Belfast Ireland, Jerusalem Israel, Central American, throughout the United States and Canada. He is currently working on a
new album.  Elmer is a self taught artist he enjoys teaching his music, flute playing, traditional designing, beading, wood making, flute and drum making. He has provided numerous classes, workshops,
concerts and exhibitions sharing his culture and knowledge.
Join the City of Thunder Bay and many of our community partners at Marina Park Festival Area to commemorate this very important day. 


Evening agenda at Marina Park 


  • 3:00 – 6:00 pm     Family activities, information booths & food vendors (3:00 pm - 8:00 pm)
  • 5:00 – 5:20 pm     Welcome, opening prayer, special thanks, moment of silence, remarks
  • 5:20 – 5:30 pm     Words of healing & Reconciliation from a residential school survivor
  • 5:30 – 5:45 pm     Thunder Mountain Drum Group
  • 5:45 – 6:00 pm     Indigenous flutist: Elmer Atlookan
  • 6:00 – 6:15 pm     Door prize draws
  • 6:15 – 6:30 pm     Indigenous film trailers
  • 6:30 – 8:00 pm     Film screening of Indian Horse
  • 8:00 pm                Thank you & closing prayer

Indian Horse Film Banner showing the date and location of the screening 

Orange Shirt Day community events - Sept. 27 - 30, 2021

Sunrise Ceremonies

Fort William First Nation and Orange Abinoojiinh Movement invites the public to attend a Sunrise Ceremony at 7:15 am on Anemki-Wajiw (Mount McKay) on Sept. 30, 2021.


Dilico Anishinabek Family care invites the public to attend a Sunrise Ceremony at 8:00 am, outside at 200 Anemki Place, on Sept. 30, 2021

Sacred Fires

Join Nishnawbe Aski Nation for a Sacred Fire at Pope John Paul School Grounds in Honour of Every Child Matters.  The fire will be lit Sept. 27-Sept 30.


Join the Orange Abinoojiinh Movement for a Sacred Fire on Sept. 23, in Fort William First Nation on Anemki-Wajiw (Mount McKay).  This Sacred Fire has been burning over 100 days now, since the first re-discovery of the 215 unmarked graves.  It will be lit until Oct 1, 2021.

Cedar Tree Planting Ceremony

The Cedar Tree Planting Ceremony will be held at 10 am, Sept. 30, at Vickers Park accompanied by a community cedar seedling giveaway.  Learn more

 Residential School Memorial Ceremony and Activities

Join Nishnawbe Aski Nation at 11:00 am for the opening ceremony at Pope John Paul school grounds in honour of Every Child Matters. The Sacred Fire will be lit until October 3, 2021.


Join Red Sky Métis Independent Nation at Pope John Paul II School from 10:30 am to 12:00 pm for an Orange Shirt Day craft. Visit their tent and show your support by painting on a rock with the hashtag #EveryChildMattersTBay

View activity poster

 Marina Park Film Screening of "Indian Horse"

Indian Horse will be screened at Marina Park along with community partner activities and information booths, 3 - 8 pm. 


Join Red Sky Métis Independent Nation down at the Marina from 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm for an Orange Shirt Day craft. Visit our tent and show your support by painting on a rock with the hashtag #EveryChildMattersTBay

Visit RSMIN's website. 


The Thunder Bay Museum will facilitate a hands-on button and magnet-making activity for children at Marina Park from 3:00 pm - 6:00 pm on Orange Shirt Day. Participants will colour an Orange Shirt Day design, and Thunder Bay Museum staff will turn the finished designs into a take-home button or a magnet.


Anishnawbe Mushkiki invites the public to visit their information booth and participate in various family activities happening at the Marina Park from 3:00 pm - 6:00 pm.  Join them for the creation of a community “Every Child Matters” hand print wreath for everyone to add to, as well as visit their colouring table with colouring sheets made by a local Indigenous artist. View activity poster.


The Thunder Bay Indigenous Friendship Centre invites the public to visit their information booth at the Marina Park from 3:00 pm - 6:00 pm for some take home activities. There will be information about TBIFC programs and they will have their new pride flag, along with activities for children. View activity poster.


Join the City of Thunder Bay and many of our community partners at Marina Park Festival Area to commemorate this very important day. Learn more.

Educational Lectures and Presentations

Reconcili-action: Learning Truths and Enacting Responsibilities

Lynn Gehl PH.D., Gii-Zhigaate Mnidookwe - Algonquin Anishinaabe

Join Lakehead University, Office of Indigenous Initiatives on Monday, September 27, 2021 - 12:00pm EDT
via zoom.  Contact Stacey Pawluk Administrative Assistant Office of Indigenous Initiatives at
Lynn Gehl is an author, advocate, public speaker, and artist. Her work encompasses both anti-colonial work and the celebration of Indigenous knowledge. She challenges Canada’s practices, policies, and laws of colonial genocide such as the land claims and self-government process, sex-discrimination in the Indian Act, the continued destruction of Akikpautik / Chaudière Falls–an Anishinaabeg sacred place, and Canada’s lack of policy addressing Indigenous women and girls with disabilities who are bigger targets of sexual violence.


Treaties, Curriculum & Anishnaabe  Pedagogy 

Nicole Richmond, JD

Join Lakehead University, Office of Indigenous Initiatives on Tuesday, September 28, 2021 - 12:00pm EDT
via zoom. Contact Stacey Pawluk Administrative Assistant Office of Indigenous Initiatives at


Nicole’s presentation will provide background on a variety of treaties that impact the people who live in and around Wiikwedong (Thunder Bay), with an emphasis on the Robinson Superior / Robinson Huron Treaties.  Nicole will outline best practices for teaching about treaties, will provide resource material and will provide comments on Anishnaabe pedagogy.


Reconciliation through Metissage

Dr. Bryanna Scott-Kay

Join Lakehead University, Office of Indigenous Initiatives on Wednesday, September 29, 2021 - 12:00pm EDT
via zoom. Contact Stacey Pawluk Administrative Assistant Office of Indigenous Initiatives at


After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

Bryanna Scott is Métis, born and raised in Fort Frances, Ontario; the heart of Treaty 3. Bryanna left her community to attend post-secondary studies at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay where she has achieved a bachelor’s degree in sociology, an honours bachelor’s degree in social work, a master’s degree in public health and most recently a PhD in educational studies. She is currently employed at Lakehead University as the coordinator of Indigenous education programs in the Faculty of Education. She has taught at Lakehead in the Faculty of Education and in the Department of Indigenous Learning. She has taught at Trent University in the Child and Youth Studies program, and she has recently taught the Indigenous Methods course as part of the Indigenous Stream-Public Health degree at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health.  In her spare time, she sits as the Treasurer of the Board at Shkoday Aboriginal Head Start and as a member of the Indigenous Education Committee with the Thunder Bay Catholic District School Board.  She has a 13-year First Nations daughter from Lake Helen First Nation.

For more online lectures, and presentations being offered visit the Lakehead University Website.  


In-Person and Online Workshops and Activities 

Mural Making

Join Dilico Anishinabek Family Care for in-person for a Mural Making outside at Anemki location, on Sept 22nd, 12:00 pm-2:00 pm.  A video will be posted online with songs honouring the children sung by Cultural Manager Bea on Sept. 30.

Visit Dilico's Cultural Faceook Page to keep up with their Orange Shirt Day events, teachings, and stories.


Paint Event & Meet Author Jenny Kay Dupuis

Anishinabek Nation invites you to their online Orange Shirt Day Paint Event - September 23, 3 - 6 pm on Zoom. Meet the Author Jenny Kay Dupuis of " I am Not  a Number" on September 27, 4 pm - 6 pm on Zoom. September 29, 2021, 12:00 pm - 2:00 pm there will be a Facebook post for those to share stories of themselves or survivors that have inspired them. At 3:00 PM we will be randomly picking names to receive a prize.

Registration for online sessions and events will open in September via the Anishinabek Nation Facebook Page.

A Night of Speaking the Truth to Heal Together

Please join the Ontario Native Women's Association in observing #OrangeShirtDay, Thursday September 30, 2021 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm ET.  This online evening event will focus on #healing, truth, kindness, and grief and loss. Support will be available during the event.

Guest speakers: Al Hunter, Joe Hunter, Audrey Deroy, and Tina Armstrong

Please note registrations after September 15, 2021 will not be guaranteed to receive the activity kit for this event.


Healing Through Beading

ONWA #Youth Life Promotions is proud to offer Virtual Training and Workshops. These trainings have no costs and will accommodate youths across the province. Due to COVID-19 restrictions all trainings will be held virtually.

Inspiring entrepreneur/artist Darci Everson will host and teach beading.  Darci will share her knowledge of Indigenous teachings and culture.

Please note registrations after September 15, 2021 will not be guaranteed to receive the activity kit for this event.


ONWA's Letter Writing Campaign

Calls for all levels of government to immediately take action; an important step in rebuilding Canada's relationship with Indigenous peoples.

Everyone has a role to play in advancing reconciliation.
Write a letter now!  

 Anemki-Wajiw Pow Wow 

Fort William First Nation and the Orange Abinoojiinh Movement invites the public to attend a two day Pow Wow on Anemki-Wajiw.  View pow wow poster.

Schedule of Events:

Sept. 30

  • 7:15 am - Sunrise Ceremony
  • 12 pm - Warm-ups
  • 1 pm - Grand Entry
  • 5 pm - Feast
  • 7 pm - Grand Entry
  • 8 pm - Red Dress Ceremony

Oct. 1

  • 12 pm - Warm-ups
  • 1 pm - Grand Entry
  • 2 pm - Recognitions
  • 5 pm - Pipe Ceremony and Feast

Proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test will be required upon entry. All safety protocols for COVID-19 will be followed. Additional screening, masks, and sanitization stations will be mandatory.


2020 - Orange Shirt Day

 A message from Mayor Bill Mauro:



 Every Child Matters - Orange Shirt Day screening of Indian Horse:

As part of Orange Shirt day the film screening Indian Horse was played at Boomer’s Drive-In Theatre where over 60 vehicles attended to support this commemorative day to remember and help honour the lives and the resiliency of Residential School survivors and their families.

 If you attended this past year's Indian Horse film screening and/or virtual Sharing of Our Stories film discussion, please take some time to complete the Evaluation Form to share your feedback.

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