Every year on September 30th, people across Canada wear orange and participate in Orange Shirt Day events to recognize and raise awareness about the history and legacies of the residential school system in Canada. Orange Shirt Day originates from the story of Phyllis Webstad from the Stswecem’c Xgat’tem First Nation. In 1973, on her first day at St. Joseph’s Residential School in Williams Lake, BC, Phyllis’s shiny new orange shirt was stripped from her, never to be seen again.

40 years later, on September 30th, 2013, Phyllis spoke publicly for the first time about her experience, and thus began the Orange Shirt Day movement.

The Canadian government designated September 30 National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, beginning in 2021. This responds to Truth and Reconciliation Call to Action 80, which states that the federal government will work with Indigenous people to establish a statutory day to “honour Survivors, their families, and communities, and ensure that public commemoration of the history and legacy of residential schools remains a vital component of the reconciliation process”.

Hear Phyllis tell her orange shirt story:

Featured events

Wear orange

Wearing orange is a way to show your support for Survivors and their families and acknowledge the legacy of residential schools.

Each year, the IRSHDC and UBC will feature the work of an Indigenous artist in its Orange Shirt Day campaign. This year, we are pleased to feature inaugural artist and intergenerational Survivor Eliot White-Hill and his thoughtful and moving design, “Truth”.

Shirts with Eliot’s design are available for sale at the UBC Bookstore and MOA (while quantities last). Proceeds from the sales will go to the Orange Shirt Society and the Indian Residential School Survivor Society. Orange t-shirts can also be purchased on the Orange Shirt Society website.

About the Artist

Eliot White-Hill, Kwulasultun is a Coast Salish artist who comes from the White family of Snuneymuxw, the Rice family of Penelakut, the Hamilton family of Hupacasath in the Nuu Chah Nulth world, and is of mixed Western European descent. He is a published author and artist, who sees all his work artistically as an extension of his storytelling. He works to tell the stories that have been passed down by his people from generation to generation, to preserve knowledge that they carry and the profound significance of the way his ancestors saw the world through both written and visual narrative. He also seeks to tell new stories. To find ways of interweaving teachings that he has received with his experience and understanding of the modern context. To walk in both worlds and tell stories that speak to new generations of Indigenous peoples.

Read the Artist’s Statement.

“When you wear an orange shirt it’s like a little bit of justice for us Survivors in our lifetime, and recognition of a system we can never allow again,”

~Phyllis Webstad

Teaching and Learning Resources

The Centre has curated some learning resources to support all audiences to learn more and begin a dialogue. Find recommended books, articles, reports, websites and videos and more.

Wellness Resources

We recognize that engaging with Indian Residential School histories and legacies can lead to emotional reactions and difficult thoughts and feelings. The following resources are available:


During or after events such as Orange Shirt Day, you may feel overwhelmed, disengaged, numb or angry. Taking time out for yourself is an important coping strategy; please be sure to take a break with a friend or by yourself. You know yourself and your needs best. It is okay to take time and space to meet those needs, and to be supported in doing so. Here are some ideas for self-care:

  • Engage in traditional ceremonies, teachings, songs, prayers, and medicines
  • Connect with family, friends, Elders, healers
  • Make a cup of tea
  • Eat something nourishing
  • Try moving around
  • Head outside for a walk
  • Spend time with a pet
  • Close your eyes and take deep, slow breaths
  • Make a list of things that make you feel strong and safe. Keep the list to reference and add to it
  • Call one of the crisis numbers listed below or reach out to a counselor


Crisis Support Lines

  • The Crisis Line Association of BC is a 24/7 toll-free phone number that may be contacted from anywhere in BC when you may access emotional support, information and resources specific to mental health and substance use issues. 310-Mental Health (310-6789) (no area code needed)
  • National Indian Residential School Crisis Line – Indigenous Services Canada offers a national Indian Residential School Crisis Line to support former Residential School students. The crisis line provides emotional and crisis referral services 24 hours a day.
    • 1-866-925-4419
  • Indian Residential School Survivors Society (IRSSS) – provides essential services to Residential School Survivors, their families, and to those dealing with intergenerational traumas
    • Main: (604) 985-4464
    • Toll free: 1-800-721-0066
  • The Hope for Wellness Help Line offers 24-hour immediate mental health counselling and crisis intervention to all Indigenous peoples across Canada.
  • Métis Crisis Line – a service of Métis Nation British Columbia. Call 1-833-MétisBC (1-833-638-4722).
  • 310 – Mental Health Call 310-6789 (no area code needed) toll-free anywhere in B.C. to access emotional support, information and resources specific to mental health and substance use issues. Available 24 hours a day.
  • BC 211 (A.K.A the RedBook) is a non-profit society that connects people to community, health services and government resources for help. They deliver information and referral services for community and government programs. You can connect to a BC 211 phone operator 24/7 on your phone by calling 2-1-1 or search resources through their website Home | BC 211

Indigenous Health Supports

  • The Indian Residential School Survivors Society (IRSSS) provides essential services to residential school Survivors, intergenerational Survivors, and their families. You can access emotional support and crisis referral services by calling the 24-hour line at 1-800-721-0066.  
  • Indigenous Services Canada offers a National Indian Residential School Crisis Line to support former residential school students. You can access emotional support and crisis referral services by calling the 24-hour national crisis line at 1-866-925-4419.
  • KUU-US Crisis Line Society operates a 24/7 Indigenous crisis line serving the entire province of BC. Please see more online information at https://www.kuu-uscrisisline.ca/
    • BC Wide Toll Free: 1-800-KUU-US17 (1-800-588-8717)
    • Métis Crisis Line BC Toll Free: 1-833MétisBC (1-833-638-4722)
    • Alternatively, individuals can call the Adult/Elder Crisis Line: 250-723-4050 or the Child/Youth Crisis Line: 250-723-2040
  • The Hope for Wellness Help Line offers 24-hour immediate mental health counselling and crisis intervention to all Indigenous peoples across Canada.
  • First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) provides information about health programs for First Nations across BC, including mental wellness and substance use. You can access a list of providers registered to offer services through their mental health benefits program at fnha.ca/benefits/mental-health or call 1-855-550-5454 for more information.
  • First Nations Virtual Doctor of the Day (FNHA) – provides virtual health care and referral support for people who do not have a doctor or are unable to get an appointment. It is for all First Nations people living in BC and their family members, including family members who are not Indigenous. Doctors are available by video or phone from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. every day. Call 1-855-344-3800 to book an appointment. Learn more at fnha.ca/virtualdoctor.
  • The Kids Help Phone is a counselling, referral and support service for children and youth under the age of 20. Professional counsellors provide immediate and caring support to young people who are dealing with a problem, making hard decisions, or are concerned with their feelings and/or mood.  The service is free, confidential, anonymous and available 24 hours a day. You can reach a professional counsellor at Kids Help Phone 24/7 by calling 1-800-668-6868
  • Tsow-Tun Le Lum Society – provides confidential outreach services such as counselling, cultural supports and personal wellness programs. Call toll-free 1-888-403-3123 or visit tsowtunlelum.org.
  • Indian Residential Schools Mental Health Support Program – (Government of Canada) provides mental and emotional health support services to eligible former Indian Residential School students and their families throughout all phases of the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement, for more information phone Toll-Free 1-877-477-0775.

Counselling for Indigenous UBC students

  • UBC Student Assistance Program (UBCSAP) is a free, 24/7 phone number for personal counselling and life coaching. This is accessible anywhere in the world and offered in many languages through phone, video-counselling, or e-counselling. Call 1-833-590-1328 toll-free in North America, or call collect 1-604-757-9734 outside North America.
  • UBC counselling Services, located at Brock Hall, is a free counselling service available to UBC students. Call 604-822-3811 for more information or to book an appointment. Counselling Services | Student Services (ubc.ca)

211 Services Across Canada

211 is a phone/online directory to find and navigate social services in the province of B.C and all of Canada. Services are available 24/7, either by calling 2-1-1 or  searching provincials websites Help Starts Here – 211.ca

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