Orange Shirt Day 2021

September 30

On September 30, we recognize the impact and intergenerational legacy of residential schools on First Nation, Métis and Inuit populations – along with their families and communities – in Canada by acknowledging Orange Shirt Day.

Orange Shirt Day was founded in 2013 after Phyllis Webstad shared her story of her first day at residential school when her shiny new orange shirt was taken from her at six years old. After sharing her story, September 30 was marked as a day to reflect on the experiences of residential school Survivors, those who didn’t survive, and their families; and consider how Canadians can help advance the Truth and Reconciliation Commissions 94 Calls to Action.

Please note: some of the program content contains subject matter that may be disturbing to some visitors, especially to Survivors of the residential school system. Please call the National Indian Residential School Crisis Line at 1 866 925 4419 or Kids Help Phone at 1 800 668 6868 or text 686868 if you or someone you know is triggered by the contents.

Program Resources

Teacher’s Resource Guide
Includes sample lesson plans, activities and glossary of terms.

Visual Arts Step by Step: Classroom Community Mobile
Supports students in understanding the important role they play in your classroom communities.

Orange Shirt Day Teachers Resource Guide

What is Orange Shirt Day?

Grades 1–3

In this short video, join Harbourfront Centre staff members Marissa Magneson (Indigenous Resource Coordinator) and Danik McAfee (Performing Arts Assistant Trainee) as they share about themselves, their identities and introduce viewers to key vocabulary associated with our understandings of Orange Shirt Day. Marissa and Danik will also explore the significance of the colour orange and provide a starting point to support conversations about residential schools.

Marissa Magneson

Danik McAfee

What is Orange Shirt Day?

Synchronous School Visits Online Class

Grades 4–8

Pre-registered classes will participate in an online School Visits Class live with Harbourfront Centre staff and Indigenous Educators to learn about Orange Shirt Day, residential schools and will create their own T-shirt design with a wearable call to action. School groups will receive an Orange Shirt Day kit which will include all materials needed to support full participation in this program. For a taste of the program our Educators are facilitating, take a look at last year’s pre-recorded Orange Shirt Day activity.

Available from September 9.

Devon Harview

Marissa Magneson

Synchronous School Visits Online Class

Author Spotlight: Bevann Fox

Grades 9–12

In this pre-recorded video, Bevann Fox and Harbourfront Centre’s Marissa Magneson will discuss the power of storytelling, share excerpts from Bevann Fox’s book Genocidal Love and explore the importance of relationships to folks of all ages. Following the discussion, check out our Teacher’s Resource Guide for a number of ways to engage students in thoughtful reflection on the discussion.

Please note that this video includes conversations of mental health, abuse, assault and addiction – we encourage all teachers to preview content prior to sharing with students.

Content Warning
Please note that three excerpts from Bevann Fox’s book are shared. The follow content is included:

Excerpt 1: Arriving at residential school
(Begins at approximately 11 minutes)
Content includes harsh or upsetting language, physical and mental abuse

Excerpt 2: Life after residential school
(Begins at approximately 24 minutes)
Content includes the impacts of trauma, such as use of drugs, alcohol and sex as coping mechanism; trauma, depression, sexual assault

Excerpt 3: Breaking the cycle of Genocidal Love
(Begins at approximately 39 minutes)
Content includes reference to drugs and alcohol use, sex, harsh or upsetting language and sexual assault

Bevann Fox

Marissa Magneson

Author Spotlight: Bevan Fox

Orange Shirt Day 2020

Harbourfront Centre School Visits is committed to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action. To this end, we launched two new Indigenous Studies programs in Fall 2019 – 7 Gifts and Exploring Our Treaties. As we continue to explore ways to build meaningful educational content around these topics, we present a multi-disciplinary approach to Orange Shirt Day for the 2020 school year.

On September 30, we recognize the impact and intergenerational legacy of residential schools on First Nation, Métis and Inuit populations – along with their families and communities – in Canada.

The activities and resources that we have developed in consultation with Indigenous community members, artists, authors and Harbourfront Centre staff will help you build a deeper understanding of residential schools and help contextualize Orange Shirt Day.

We hope these resources will support you in delivering meaningful lessons on residential schools and opening dialogue with your students as we pause and reflect on September 30.

Program Resources

Teacher’s Resource Guide: includes sample lesson plans, activities and glossary of terms.

Student Manipulatives Guide: includes easy-to-print documents that will support student learning and the lesson plans in the Teacher’s Resource Guide.

Orange Shirt Day Teachers Resource Guide

Author Interview with David A. Robertson


David A. Robertson is an award-winning writer. His books include When We Were Alone (winner of the Governor General’s Literary Award), Will I See? (winner of the Manuela Dias Book Design and Illustration Award), Betty: The Helen Betty Osborne Story, and the YA trilogy, The Reckoner (winner of the Michael Van Rooy Award for Fiction, McNally Robinson Best Book for Young People). Robertson educates as well as entertains through his writings about Indigenous Peoples in Canada, reflecting their cultures, histories, communities, as well as illuminating many contemporary issues. He is a member of Norway House Cree Nation and currently lives in Winnipeg.

Artist Talk with Brian Kon


Born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Brian Kon moved to Niagara Falls, Ontario in 1996, where he continues to live today. Kon has become an internationally recognized visual artist from the Métis community. His style of art is called Dot Art (Bead Art Painting), which is a modern version of traditional beadwork created by Métis people. Each “bead” is applied as a single dot of paint to create the images in his art. Many of the designs in Kon’s paintings can be traced to beadwork found on historic clothing and possessions of Métis people. In addition to painting, Kon enjoys photography and sketching. He also makes traditional Métis clothing using materials and techniques once used by Métis fur traders in the 1700s and 1800s. Samples of his works can be seen when he attends both traditional and non-traditional Indigenous ceremonies.

Orange Shirt Day Craft Tutorial


Marissa Magneson is the Artist Services and Indigenous Resource Coordinator at Harbourfront Centre. She has a BFA (Honours) degree from York University, and is currently working towards an MA in Canadian and Indigenous Studies at Trent University. Magneson is a Cree-Métis artist, photographer and workshop facilitator who works with a number of Urban Indigenous communities in Tkaronto. For samples of her work, please visit her website or @MagnesonStudios / @MarissaMagnesonPhotography on Instagram.