Orange Shirt Day

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.

hands tying orange ribbons to a rope

2021 Programming

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.


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.


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.


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

2020 Programming

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.


Author Interview with David A. Robertson

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

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

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 marissamagneson.com or @MagnesonStudios / @MarissaMagnesonPhotography on Instagram.

Participant Profiles

Bevan Fox

Bevann Fox is a member of Pasqua First Nation, originally from Piapot First Nation. In 2012 she received her Bachelor of Arts in Arts and Culture and in 2018 her Master in Business Administration, Leadership from the University of Regina. In 2014 she was honoured with the YWCA Women of Distinction Award—Arts, Culture and Heritage. She received the Indigenous Voice Award 2021 – Creative Non-Fiction Life Writing for Genocidal Love, which was also honoured with a Saskatchewan Book Award in 2021.


Devon Harview

Devon Harview is the Indigenous Education Coordinator Trainee at Harbourfront Centre. He has just recently completed his BA (Honours) in French Studies from York University Glendon campus and is looking forward to becoming a Modern Foreign Languages teacher after completing Teacher’s College. As a linguist and an artist, Harview integrates creative expression into his everyday life through learning and sharing his passions with others.


Marissa Magneson

Marissa Magneson, Assistant Producer and Indigenous Resource Coordinator at Harbourfront Centre, is a Cree-Métis artist, photographer, educator, and workshop facilitator based in Tkaronto. She has a BFA (honours) degree from York University and is currently working towards an MA in Canadian and Indigenous Studies at Trent University. Her research explores Indigenous re-search methodologies through a decolonial approach centred in beadwork as visual storytelling.

In collaborating and working with organizations such as, but not limited to: The Association of Native Development in the Performing and Visual Arts; University Indigenous Centre’s such as York, UBC, and Colorado State University; The Toronto and York Regional Métis Council; Harbourfront Centre and Right To Play, Magneson works towards both photographing, consulting, educating, and creating Indigenous programming in a meaningful way. Magneson’s work is centred around decolonizing education, strengthening community and cultural reclamation.