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Honouring the legacy of Indian Residential Schools

The Indian Residential School system operated across Canada between the 1870s and the 1990s. Indian Residential Schools were created to separate Indigenous children from their families and communities, and to systematically strip away their traditions, cultural practices and languages.

More than 150,000 First Nations, Inuit and Métis children from across the country were forced to attend Indian Residential Schools, which were often located far from their homes. Many never made it home.

Each year on the federally recognized National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, we reflect and honour Survivors, their families and communities affected by the legacy of Indian Residential School policies.

Mohawk Institute, view of the school façade, Brantford, Ontario, unknown date — Library and Archives Canada/Department of the Interior, fonds/a043613

About the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and Orange Shirt Day

National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

September 30, 2021 marked the first observance of a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, following the identification of unmarked burials at former Indian Residential School sites.

Recognizing this day was one of the first steps in a long journey towards understanding and meaningful reconciliation.

Orange Shirt Day

September 30 is recognized as Orange Shirt Day, an Indigenous-led grassroots commemorative day inspired by the story of Indian Residential School Survivor Phyllis Webstad.

To honour the children who survived Indian Residential Schools and remember those who did not, many Canadians across the country wear an orange shirt.

Learn and reflect

Take some time to learn about the stories of the First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples and the ongoing legacy of Indian Residential School in Ontario.

National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation

Learn about the tragic and painful legacy of Indian Residential Schools and how it continues to impact the lives of Indigenous peoples across the country.

Orange Shirt Society

Read about Phyllis Webstad, a residential school Survivor, whose story inspired Orange Shirt Day. People in Ontario and across Canada wear orange shirts to remember and honour Indigenous children who were taken from their communities and families and forced to attend residential schools.

Assembly of First Nations It's Our Time Toolkit

Access tools to help you reflect on the intergenerational harm that Indian Residential Schools have caused Indigenous families and communities.

Nishnawbe Aski Nation resources

Take steps to continue your journey towards understanding and meaningful reconciliation.

Woodland Cultural Centre Indigenous Preservation Museum

Check out a variety of educational workshops, tours and other programming to learn more about the past, present and future of Southern Ontario’s First Nations peoples.


Support is available if you, or someone you know, needs help or support.

A National Residential School Crisis Line is available to provide support to former Residential School students and their families. You can access emotional and crisis referral services by calling the free of charge 24-Hour National Crisis Line at 1-866-925-4419.

Indigenous peoples across Canada can also connect with The Hope for Wellness Help Line 24 hours a day, seven days a week for counselling and crisis intervention. Call the toll-free help line at 1-855-242-3310 or connect to the online chat.

Talk4Healing is a culturally grounded, fully confidential help line available in 14 languages for Indigenous women in Ontario. Call the toll-free number at 1-855-554-HEAL (4325).

Free and confidential mental health support is available to anyone who may be affected.