Residential Schools

Truth and Reconciliation Week: September 25 - September 30, 2023

2023 Theme: 

Gidinawendimin / We Are All Related / Nous sommes tous liés


Across the St. Clair Catholic District School Board, we have been spending the week honoring survivors of residential schools, family members of survivors, the children who never made it home, and all those who are impacted by residential schools. This year, the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation's theme is “Gidinawendimin / We Are All Related / Nous sommes tous liés". We are spending Orange Shirt Week, Sept 25th to 30th learning firsthand in partnership with Indigenous Elders, Knowledge Keepers, Survivors, and family members of survivors. 2023 marks the 10th year of Orange Shirt Day, Nationwide.

SCCDSB Honors and Remembers Orange Shirt Week 2023

Learning throughout this week:

- Elders Deb and Barry Milliken, Kettle and Stony Point First Nation, share story and song at 2 schools

- Former NHL hockey player, Jason Simon, Aamjiwnaang First Nation, joins 8 schools to share his story of resilience and inspire youth to make a difference and achieve their dreams.

- Anishinaabe artist Moses Lunham, Kettle and Stony Point First Nation will use art to inspire action as he teaches students of all ages to paint using inspiration from this year's We Are All Related theme across every school

- Classes engage in learning first-hand from survivors with the Woodland Cultural Centre, which is also known as the Mohawk Institute Residential School museum, and think about reconciliation in action across every school.

- Cedric, Sandra, and Leigh Ann Isaac, Bkejwanong Territory, will connect with schools through music and story across 6 schools. 

- Students at St. Joseph, Tilbury, perform a play based on author David Robertson's book, The Song that Called Them Home in partnership with Cedric Isaac and family, Bkejwanong Territory

- Herb Snake, Eelünaapéewi Lahkéewiit, will bring dance and stories to celebrate culture to 4 schools.  

- Lynda Lou Classens, Bkejwanong Territory, Librarian at Walpole Island First Nations Library read stories and connects with the students about the importance of Orange Shirt Day across 4 schools.  

- Janet Steadman, Aamjiwnaang First Nation, will bring story and reflection about the importance of Orange Shirt Day 2 schools.

- Indigenous Filmmaker, Derek Sands, Bkejwanong Territory, screened his new film with 1000 secondary students, All Sacred Things, and shared his journey as a filmmaker to today and where he finds his strength and resilience in the face of obstacles.

- Steve Tooshkenig, Bkejwanong Territory connects in an evening session with members of St. Joseph Corunna Parish

- Students from Christ the King, Holy Family, and St. Elizabeth Wallaceburg participate in the 2nd Annual Healing Walk and Gathering in Wallaceburg. 

We learn the history and truth directly from survivors and family members of survivors of residential schools, the intergenerational impacts, resilience, gifts, and heroes, as we think about the truth we are learning and how we can take action toward reconciliation.


215 marks an important number. It marks the nation's eyes opening to the truth. As the number of bodies being uncovered across the nation continue to rise, we commit to education and reconciliation, to raising awareness and creating change and action among our students and families. 

In loving memory ...

In loving memory of the children that never returned home

We recognize the difficult parts of our nation’s history.  We wish to honour the lives of the thousands of children that never returned home. 

This 2023 - 2024 school year, as numbers continue to climb by the thousands, we stand in solidarity and call ourselves to action as we remember the children. 

Prayer for Reconciliation 

Holy One, Creator of all that is, seen and unseen, of story and of song, of heartbeat and of tears of bodies, souls, voices and all relations: you are the God of all truth and the way of all  reconciliation.   Uphold with your love and compassion all who open their lives in the sacred sharing of their stories breathe in us the grace to trust in your loving forgiveness, that we may face our histories with courage;  touch us through the holy gift of story that those who speak and those who listen may behold your own redeeming presence;  guide us with holy wisdom to enter through the gates of remorse that our feet may walk gently and firmly on the way of justice and healing.    Amen                                                                                                                                Adapted from Kairos

Art Work created by Artist Moses Lunham, Kettle and Stony Point First Nation

Learning Opportunities 

Truth and Reconciliation Week:  

Gidinawendimin/We Are All Related/Nous sommes tous liés

September 25-30, 2023

TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION WEEK 2023 is a national program open to all schools across Canada. This year, the theme is “Gidinawendimin/We Are All Related/Nous sommes tous liés". Join in as we memorialize the children lost to the residential school system and honour Survivors and their families. Learning and commemorating the truth of our history from First Nations, Métis, and Inuit knowledge keepers is an important part of the path to Reconciliation.

This year includes an expanded program with age-appropriate material for all students. 

Click here for details and registration. 

All sessions will be held virtually on Hubilo. Registration is required to stream live and pre-recorded sessions.  

Calendar: What's Happening LIVE & IN Person Across SCCDSB Schools

SCCDSB In Person Partner Schedule Orange Shirt Week Sept 25 - 30, 2023

SCCDSB Registration for Local Virtual Opportunties

What's Happening in Community

2023 Marks the 10th Year of Orange Shirt Day Nationwide

When is the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation?

Schools across SCCDSB will honor this day on Friday September 29th, 2023. 

The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, which falls on September 30, recognizes the harm the residential school system did and is an affirmation that everyone matters. This day we know as Orange Shirt Day is observed as a statutory holiday to commemorate the legacy of Residential Schools in Canada. Truth and Reconciliation Week is an opportunity to continue the learning and conversations all throughout the week. 

Schools across SCCDSB engage in hands-on learning all throughout the week and commemorate Orange Shirt Day on September 29th since this year's Orange Shirt Day falls on a Saturday. 

This 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. 

Remember those children and communities dramatically affected by the Indian Residential Schools System. September 30, known as 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. This year, 2023, marks the 10th anniversary of Orange Shirt Day Nationwide.

Resources for the Classroom

Hands On Connections to Reflect Upon Learning


Collaborative Art Installation

Use this slideshow as inspiration to create a tiled display to commemorate residential school survivors and family members of survivors.    

Contact for tiles. 

Collaborative Art Installation


Painted Rocks and other Physical Displays

Think about symbols. Paint rocks orange, create handprints, draw hearts to remember, create orange duct tape messages on walls, use the sidewalk and create chalk messages; reflect, discuss, pray, raise awareness. 

Scroll through slide show pictures beside for ideas. 


Display Boards

Create an interactive display board as a class to invite other classes, parents, and the community to engage in learning. 

Scroll through slide show pictures for inspiration.


Orange Shirt Day Pins

Create Orange Shirt Day pins to raise awareness and keep the messsage of reconciliation going. You can raise awareness by wearing your pin & making pins for others to wear.  

How can you create your Orange Shirt Pin and make it meaningful? What would you want to put on your orange shirt? What message do you think it should represent? 

A few ideas for your pin design: 

Reflection Questions: 

Lana Parenteau, Indigenous Peer Navigator was moved to create Orange Shirt Pins as a way to keep the conversations going. 

Lana and CK Coming Together decided that making pins to raise awareness was a simple yet powerful way for people to just start working together.

Key messages on making orange shirt pins from Lana include: Our History, Yours and Mine, Together We Learn, Together We Heal. As Lana and CK Coming Together sat with our school board, Lana reminds all of us that the pin is personal, you can create as many as you see fit to raise awareness and create your own orange shirt pins that speak to you.  

Share a Story Trail

Walk through a Story Trail... in an Interactive Way: Bring a story to life in your classroom, for a division, or across your school with a Story Trail or Poetry performance.  The interaction helps students and audiences to think deeply about the story.  Follow the walk by having students create a response to their learning through art. Contact for a Story Trail kit for the book, On the Trapline / Ligne de Trappe by David Robertson.

Responding to Reading 

What makes you, you? Who and what things, stories or traditions would you say are important to you? What do you have that reminds you of - or helps you feel close to - your favourite place and favourite people?

Connect with students that all people have arts, stories, histories, and more that are important and help us feel included, and make us unique and special. These were taken away with residential schools. Ask students to think about and list all things they like/love about school. 

Read a picture book (grade appropriate, such as: “I am Not a Number”, “The Train”, “When We Were Alone”, “Shi-Shi-Etko”, “The Orange Shirt Story” (English  French   video), or another book about residential school that you choose. Invite students to ask questions and share their feelings about the reading.  Review list that they created before they read the book, and decide which things from that list were present at residential schools.  


Visit the residential schools interactive maps. Find out the location of residential schools. Investigate how far the residential schools would have been away from the families of the students that attended. Discuss what impact this made. 


Invite students to connect with Phyllis' story: What did having her orange shirt taken away mean to her? What does the shirt symbolize for her?  Why do you think Phyllis shared this story?  What sorts of things do people say and do to make others feel they don't belong?  that they do belong?  What can we do today to let survivors know that we've listened and are learning from their stories? Why do we wear orange? What else can we do to remember; to learn; to educate others?


Ask students to create a response (i.e. a letter, a card, an artwork) to their learning about the stories of residential schools and share that response with a survivor or a family member of a survivor. Contact to share. 

Teaching Children About Residential Schools

Monday, September 25, 2023 | 2:00pm ET

Join the Downie Wenjack Foundation as we hear from educators, early childhood caregivers, parents, youth, and Artist Ambassador Isaac Murdoch as they share how they tackle the hard truths in teaching young learners about residential schools.

This session will be live on Facebook and YouTube on September 25 at 2pm ET. Tune in live or watch at a later time. Click here for details.

What can you do as an adult learner? 

adapted from:  &    (questions modified to include a local connection as well as additional suggestions are included for reflective learning

Intergenerational Resilience: Sharing Stories From Families Of Residential School Survivors

Monday, October 2, 2023 | 2:00pm ET
Recommended for older audiences (secondary school and up).

Join the Downie Wenjack Foundation to listen to the stories and reflections from three generations within a family impacted by the residential school era. This panel will address challenging topics and is recommended for older audiences (secondary school age and up).

This session will be live on Facebook and YouTube on October 2 at 2pm ET. Tune in live or watch at a later time.

"Orange Shirt Day provides all Canadians with an opportunity to come together in a collective act of reconciliation and hope for generations of children to come."