Residential Schools

Orange Shirt Day

Orange Shirt Day is September 30 nation wide. As a school community, select a date that works best for your school close to this date. Take a moment to remember those children and communities dramatically affected by the Indian Residential Schools System. Orange Shirt Day is inspired by Phyllis Jack Webstad who, on her first day at residential school in 1973, was stripped of her new orange shirt.

Prayer on Orange Shirt Day

Loving God

Your creation explodes with the colours of the rainbow

Your peoples reveal the beauty of diversity

We remember today when the joy and dignity of a precious child was destroyed.

We lament today for the childhoods lost through the residential school system.

We mourn for the spirits crushed and the futures compromised.

Celebrate the hope and joy of every child

Tell the stories of resistance that make us stronger

Build the bonds of solidarity to ensure “never again”

We pray for the survivors, those that never made it home, and all who are impacted. Amen

Adapted from Kairos

Recognizing Orange Shirt Day and Beginning the Year with Raising Awareness

As part of the new mandatory curriculum that includes the teaching and learning of Residential Schools in an age appropriate way, schools across St. Clair Catholic District School Board are encouraged to support and participate in this National campaign. Orange Shirt Day provides an opportunity for schools and our local First Nations communities to come together in the spirit of reconciliation and hope for generations of children to come. To connect conversations in the classroom, please use this webpage for links to resources and ideas about how to approach the conversation in the classroom before, during, and after Orange Shirt Day.

Classroom Discussions

Throughout classroom discussions, it is important to recognize that Indigenous people are not victims first. Include time to learn about the culture, the language, as well as history, traditions, and perspectives and the many resilient people who were impacted by residential schools. Please contact for further information about how to raise awareness and build understanding in your school and check out this Indigenous Education SCCDSB website for resources and links to Orange Shirt Day lesson plans for before and after this important day is recognized.

When is Orange Shirt Day?

Orange Shirt Day, which falls on September 30, recognizes the harm the residential school system did and is an affirmation that everyone matters. Many schools and organizations across the country recognize Orange Shirt Day either on September 30 or a day of their choosing close to September 30. Schools across SCCDSB are doing the same. The calendar below highlights dates our schools are hosting Orange Shirt Day with community partners. Orange Shirt Day is an opportunity to keep the discussion on all aspects of residential schools happening annually. September 30 was chosen because September is the time of year in which children were taken from their homes to residential schools, and because it is an opportunity to involve the students in the process and set the stage for anti-racism and anti-bullying in school conversations.

Phyllis Webstad shares her story in a child-friendly, easy to follow way. The background in the video changes to show traditional way of life vs life in residential school. Appropriate for grades 3 and up.


Use tiles as a reflection tool and commemoration exhibit to honor those who attended Residential Schools and their families. Click on the title or image to view classroom/school ideas.

New Books for the Classroom in Your School

All Grade Levels

You Hold Me Up by Monique Gray Smith

Junior Intermediate Classes

Speaking Our Truth by Monique Gray Smith


Speaking Our Truth Teacher's Guide

Intermediate Senior Classes

Use this folder for an updated and complete list and links to current resources in your school.

Texts in Schools

What Can I Contribute to Meaningful Reconciliation? Teaching and Learning About Residential Schools Unit

This a unit that explores the causes and consequences of residential schools in Canada. Developed in collaboration with Grand Erie District School Board, Six Nations of the Grand River’s Education Department, and the Mississaugas of New Credit, this resource supports educators and learners in using a critical-inquiry approach to develop deep understandings of some of the complex, challenging, and painful events that have affected the relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada. This resource invites thoughtful and reflective explorations that move us beyond understanding the past and into our roles and responsibilities in the present. Through a learning journey where carefully considered decisions and empathic engagements are nurtured, learners are encouraged to develop genuine commitments and engage in meaningful actions that contribute to reconciliation. Designed for grade six and up, the fully-developed lessons include briefing sheets, image sets, suggested resources, and blackline masters to support student thinking and learning about reconciliation.


What Does Truth, Reconciliation, and Hope Mean to You?

The following three videos, entitled "Truth", "Reconciliation" and "Hope" include intimate interviews with residential school survivors, indigenous youth and leaders in education and politics. They're an excellent tool to spark discussion about this troubling history as well as how we can build a better future.

The Secret Path

Gord Downie, the lead singer of the Canadian band, The Tragically Hip, is bringing attention to one of the most haunting legacies in our country's history - the residential school system and the children and families who were affected by it all. Downie released a multimedia project called The Secret Path, which consists of an album with 10 new songs, and a graphic novel by Jeff Lemire. The project is devoted to sharing the story of 12 year old Chanie Wenjack, an Anishinabe boy who died from hunger and exposure after escaping from his residential school to try and find his way home.

The Secret Path - CBC Arts

We Are Still Here - Local Documentary

"We Are Still Here" documentary features three local women from Bkejwanong Territory, also known as Walpole Island First Nation, and Aamjiwnaang First Nation. The three elders share their memories of surviving residential schools.


Full Version

Aftershock - Local Documentary

"Aftershock" documentary features the children of the three local women from Bkejwanong Territory, also known as Walpole Island First Nation, and Aamjiwnaang First Nation. This is the story of the next generation of the three elders who shared their memories of surviving residential schools in the "We Are Still Here" documentary.

Aftershock 10min version.mp4

Aftershock (10 min Version)

Aftershock 40 min.mp4

Aftershock (Full Version)

We Are Still Here and Aftershock Combined Documentary

Clouds of Autumn

This film focuses on a young Indigenous boy named William and his older sister Shayl whose carefree childhoods are torn apart when Shayl is forced to attend a residential school. Singular visual interpretations infuse co-director Trevor Mack’s family history with a slowly shifting tone that evokes loss and love.

Interactive Map

"Everyone has a story. The first step towards understanding other people is learning about their past. George Couchie takes us through some of his Indigenous culture and history, educating us about the impacts of residential schools. Inspiring youth Angel Armstrong, Mckenzie Ottereyes Eagle, and Miigwan Buswa share their connection to the past and show us how they are stopping those negative cycles by embracing culture.

The Métis Residential School Experience


The Inuit Residential School Experience

SCCDSB Student Learning

Grade 7/8 students at Holy Family Catholic School presented a play to the community to honor residential school survivors and commemorate Orange Shirt Day in their school.

The Secondary Student Leadership Group at St. Patrick's Sarnia host a live stream interview with residential school survivor Susie Jones baa for all classrooms across the school on the first day of a week-long recognition of the legacy of residential schools.

Grade 7/8 students Holy Trinity Catholic school create a presentation to raise awareness and sew hearts that include a message with calls to action towards reconciliation.

Grade 8 students at Holy Trinity Catholic School create a presentation to share their learning about the legacy of residential schools for Orange Shirt Day.

Kidwin Zhingwaak trailer 2019

The UCC Youth Leadership Group, Kidwin Zhingwaak, share their reflections and are creating their own documentary!

Resource Folder

This resource folder contains the files in connection with residential schools and recognizing the legacy of residential schools before, during, and after Orange Shirt Day. Click on this folder to expand.