First virtual Orange Shirt Day event highlights calls to action for Ryerson community
“This is not an audience sport. Reconciliation is a participant sport and they are already engaged. The real question is, how are you engaged and how do you want to change your engagement?”
On Wednesday, September 30, Ryerson community members congregated for the university’s fourth annual (and first virtual) Orange Shirt Day. The event began with a prayer of strength, peace and gratitude from Joanne Okimawininew Dallaire, Ryerson’s Elder (Ke Shay Hayo) and Senior Advisor, Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation. Elder Dallaire issued a prayer for the souls of the Indigenous People who died in Canada’s residential school system and for the continued healing of the Indigenous community and all residential school survivors. She ended her prayer by thanking Ryerson University for “standing up and keeping its word on Truth and Reconciliation.”
President Mohamed Lachemi, Dr. Saeed Zoldaganari (Interim Provost and Vice-President, Academic) and Dr. Denise O’Neil Green (Vice President, Equity and Community Inclusion) shared remarks, echoing Senator Sinclair’s message that non-Indigenous Ryerson community members must continue to engage and participate with Truth and Reconciliation everyday.
Following the speeches, Orange Shirt Day committee members led a reading of “Phyllis’s Orange Shirt” by Phyllis Webstad (founder of Orange Shirt Day). Despite the heartwarming teamwork from the committee, the reading served as a reminder for the Ryerson community of the somber truth of the residential school system in Canada.
How you can engage in Truth and Reconciliation through self-education
To continue to actively participate and engage with Truth and Reconciliation, we recommend resources for self-education from Indigenous authors to help you along your journey.
- "Phyllis’s Orange Shirt, external link, external link" (for ages 4 to 8) by Phyllis Webstad
- "The Orange Shirt Story: The True Story of Orange Shirt Day, external link, external link" (for ages 9 to 12) by Phyllis Webstad
- "I Lost My Talk, external link, external link” by Rita Joe
- "I’m Finding My Talk, external link, external link” by Rebecca Thomas
- ”What the Eagle Sees, external link, external link” by Eldon Yellowhorn
- ”Surviving the City, external link, external link” by Tasha Spillett
- ”Fire Song” by Adam Garnet Jones, external link, external link (notable Ryerson alumni and filmmaker)
- “The Truth About Stories, external link, external link” by Thomas King
- “The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America, external link, external link” by Thomas King
You can also join Dr. Pamela Palmater, external link, external link (Ryerson’s Chair in Indigenous Governance and Associate Professor) in her monthly Reconciliation Book Club, external link, external link on YouTube.
Orange Shirt Day 2020 was led by Ryerson Aboriginal Student Services (RASS) (as part of Aboriginal Initiatives in the Office of the Vice-President, Equity and Community Inclusion) in collaboration with the Aboriginal Education Council, Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching, Ryerson Library, School of Early Childhood Studies, School of Midwifery and School of Social Work.