Orange Shirt Day: National Day for Truth and Reconciliation


September 30 reminds us that every child matters. It is a day to remember the children who did not return home from residential schools, survivors, families and all who need healing. We are called to discern God’s Call, to learn and work for truth, justice and peace.

Some ways to consider observing this day are:

From the Evangelical Lutheran Church In Canada Eastern Synod Circle for Reconciliation and Justice about Orange Shirt Day:

Phyllis Jack Webstad was six years old when she left her community of Stswedcem’c Xgat’tem First Nation to attend St. Joseph Residential School. Like most six year olds, she was excited to attend school for the first time. Her grandmother bought her a new, bright orange shirt for her to wear on her first day. When she arrived at school, far from home, her new orange shirt was taken away from her and never returned. This marked the start of Phyllis’s separation from her community, culture, family and friends; a separation mandated by the federal government and supported by the church.

On September 30th, we wear orange to remember that Every Child Matters and as people of faith, we need to listen to stories like Phyllis’s and learn from the wisdom, reflection, trauma, as well as the strength and resiliency of those who were taken from their families and communities and forced to attend residential schools, some of whom never returned home again. As Christians, it is also our responsibility to make reparations for the ways in which we continue to uphold colonialism and benefit from the systemic racism in our institutions and societal structures. For the first time in 2021, September 30th is now a federal statutory holiday – the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, where people are encouraged to engage in learning, as well as listening and reflecting on the ongoing impact of the residential school system.

To listen to a CBC interview of Phyllis Jack Webstad:

More about the History of Orange Shirt Day:

Let us join in this Prayer of Reconciliation, written by Cari Klaassen. Carolyn (Cari) Klaassen is a long-time member of the ELCIC, a 60’s scoop survivor, an Ojibway woman from the Henley Inlet First Nation, and an Indigenous MDiv student at Vancouver School of Theology (VST).

Creator God, most loving and our protector,

we come today to offer our sorrows, our passions, our grief, our commitments.

We thank you Creator God, for the life you bestowed upon us.

We thank you Creator God, for the journey that we have indwelled with your direction.

We thank you for the creation that you have given us and for the earth and all that is within it. From the land, the oceans, the water ways, the trees, the vegetation; to the animals, birds of the air, animals of the sea, that give life and continue to nourish our lives. We take great pride in what you have given us.

We remember the children that have been found and have been hidden from us for so long. We thank you for each one of their lives, that you protected and cherished them when we didn’t know.

We pray for all the families that have lost these little ones and we pray for those who endured the pain, abuse and neglect but survived to tell their story. We thank you for giving them the courage and strength to move on and heal. With you all things are possible.

We pray for the governments, churches, and other institutions that were involved with the Residential Schools and that justice is served and the healing may continue.

Gracious God, protect and surround Indigenous people with your Great Spirit and comfort us in this time.

Our lament is to cry out to you, to cry to you for healing, to take away the pain that burdens Indigenous people. The pain of the horrors that these innocent children endured. The cries that were only heard by their abusers.

Give us the strength and the boldness to rise above and prevail in the work that you have entrusted to us to fulfil.

Most of all, Loving God, we thank you for each one of our lives. You created us in your image. Not one is left alone, not one is forgotten. We thank you that even when we live in a fallen world and evil has been bestowed upon us, we still prevail above all to continue the work you have given each of us.

Give us the courage to say, yes, and to stand up against wrongs that have been done, to stand up against wrongs done to Indigenous people of Canada. That this world is restored to what it was intended by you.

We thank you for the lives that have gone to be with you. We thank you for their leadership and compassion. Their work is done on earth and continues, as they have left for us to continue.

Sovereign of our lives, we pray for leaders in government, in churches, in the world that they make just decisions and reprimand the wrongs that have been done to these children and families. You are a just God and a God of vengeance.

We thank you, Holy God, as we meet in this sacred space.

In Jesus’ mighty name, in all my relations. Amen.



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