Organizers hoping for big crowd on Orange Shirt Day

With Orange Shirt Day falling on a weekend, organizers are hoping for a big turnout this year.

Today, Timmins Mayor Michelle Boileau proclaimed Sept. 30 as Orange Shirt Day in the city.

Staff from the Timmins Native Friendship Centre were at city hall for the proclamation.

This kind of recognition is a step toward reconciliation, said Christian Young, an Indigenous community mental health worker.

“We need people in leadership positions to lead by example when it comes to reconciliation and taking those steps required to acknowledge our past and to heal from it,” he said.

With Sept. 30 falling on a Saturday, he hopes the turnout will be higher than it has been over the past few years.

“We still have our planned activities, but I think we’re more excited for people who work on weekdays to attend this kind of event,” he said. “As one of my colleagues said earlier, every year it seems to grow and grow, so we’re hoping with it on the weekend this year, we’ll see a whole lot more people show their support.”

Orange Shirt Day events at the Timmins Native Friendship Centre on Kirby Avenue start at 10 a.m. There will be crafts for the children and a walk to show support for those affected by residential schools.

“Expect some knowledge sharing, for sure,” said Young. “When people have experienced the things that have happened in the past, they’re on a healing journey, so when they come and share and allow people in on that journey, it’s important that we show respect and acknowledge that is their truth.”

Boileau said that acknowledging the day and the history behind it is an essential step toward truth and reconciliation.

“What I take away from it is that you get to see the Indigenous community in Timmins gathered, and welcoming non-Indigenous community members, and you get to see the impact of residential schools and colonization on the people here today,” she said. “It’s a great opportunity to get together, to learn from one another, and get to know each other better.”

Orange Shirt Day and National Day for Truth and Reconciliation are both observed on Sept 30.

Orange Shirt Day is part of a grassroots, Indigenous-led movement to raise awareness of the individual, family, and community inter-generational impacts of residential schools.

National Day of Truth and Reconciliation was declared a federal holiday in 2021.

Amanda Rabski-McColl, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter,