2023 Orange Shirt Day and National Day for Truth & Reconciliation Commemoration

SeptemberSep 29 2023 10:30am - 12:00pm

Indigenous Initiatives

Honour the experiences of residential school survivors by joining a University-wide event to recognize Orange Shirt Day and the National Day for Truth & Reconciliation. Students, librarians, faculty members, and staff can register to attend this event in person or watch the live stream.

The University of Toronto will commemorate the day on Friday, September 29th with remarks from Alexandra Gillespie, Vice-President & Principal, University of Toronto Mississauga, and Rose Patten, Chancellor, University of Toronto, in the Great Hall at Hart House. David Kim, Warden, Hart House, will host the commemoration.

Following those remarks, Grant Hurley, Canadiana Librarian, Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, Mikayla Redden, Information Services & Instruction Librarian, New College Library, and Desmond Wong, Outreach Librarian, OISE Library, will engage in a panel discussion on making Residential School Survivors' stories accessible at the University of Toronto Libraries. Angela Henshilwood, Head, Engineering & Computer Science Library, is moderating the discussion.

Orange Shirt Day has been observed on September 30th annually for several years. In June 2021, the Federal Government passed legislation formally recognizing September 30th as the National Day for Truth & Reconciliation.

Other ways to participate

Purchase an Orange Shirt Day Shirt

All members of the U of T community are encouraged to wear an orange shirt on September 29-30 in the spirit of reconciliation. Doing so affirms that "Every Child Matters."

In recognition of Orange Shirt Day 2023 and the National Day for Truth & Reconciliation, the Office of Indigenous Initiatives has again partnered with the U of T Bookstore for a limited supply of orange t-shirts.

MJ Singleton, an Ojibwe, two-spirit student from Migisi Sahgaigan First Nation who is studying at the University of Toronto Mississauga, designed this year's t-shirt. Their design, titled noojimo'iwe, emphasizes the importance of healing the intergenerational trauma of residential schooling by supporting and loving those around you. It portrays a mother holding hands and walking forward with her two children. Above them, a bright sun with contour lines connecting to floral pattern and designs representing all living things.

All proceeds from the sale of these shirts will be directed to Indigenous community organizations—no proceeds will go to the U of T Bookstore or the University of Toronto.

Participate Virtually in Orange Shirt Day

We also encourage all U of T community members to download and use the Orange Shirt Day icon as their profile photo and use the virtual background on Teams or Zoom calls the week of September 25-30 featuring MJ Singleton’s design.


Opening Remarks

David Kim, Warden, Hart House

Land Acknowledgement & Welcome Remarks

Alexandra Gillespie, Vice-President & Principal, University of Toronto Mississauga

Greetings from the Chancellor

Rose Patten, Chancellor, University of Toronto

Panel Discussion:


Grant Hurley, Canadiana Librarian, Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library
Mikayla Redden, Information Services & Instruction Librarian, D.G. Ivey Library
Desmond Wong, Outreach Librarian, OISE Library

Panel Moderator

Angela Henshilwood, Head, Engineering & Computer Science Library

Audience Dialogue with Panelists

Speakers' Biographies

Alexandra Gillespie

Alexandra Gillespie (She / Her)

Alexandra Gillespie is Vice-President of the University of Toronto and Principal at U of T Mississauga, where she has had the privilege to teach as a professor of global book history for the past twenty years.

As Vice-President and Principal, Alex champions the university’s priorities and works to build reciprocal relationships across our Mississauga and Peel communities. She’s deeply committed to realizing U of T’s promise: to remain North America’s top public university for the employability of our graduates and to give all our students the lift of a lifetime. And she’s proud to be part of a UTM community where some of the best students, faculty, and staff in the world work to make the world a better place.

Angela Henshilwood

Angela Henshilwood (She / Her)

Angela Henshilwood is a settler of Scottish/Irish decent, originally from Kitchener, which is on Treaty 4 land. Angela is currently the Head of the Engineering & Computer Science Library, but she has been an engineering librarian at U of T since 2014. Angela lives nearby with her husband and 6-year-old son on land that was part of the Toronto Purchase.

Grant Hurley

Grant Hurley (He / Him)

Grant Hurley is a settler librarian and archivist who works at the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, the University of Toronto Libraries. He is responsible for curating the library’s extensive collections documenting the diverse experiences, histories, and cultural life on the lands associated with Canada. Grant also serves as a Sessional Instructor for the Faculty of Information at the University of Toronto. In 2021, he was awarded the Archives Association of Ontario’s Alexander Fraser Award for exceptional service to the archival community and the MISC Outstanding Instructor Award for excellence in teaching.

David Kim

David Kim (He / Him)

David is currently Warden for Hart House at the University of Toronto. His previous roles at U of T were in the area of residence and student life where he had oversight for the admissions, student services, and residence life operations for several of the residences on the St. George campus. David holds a PhD in Higher Education from OISE, where he is a sessional lecturer and coordinates a student internship program in the Department of Leadership, Higher and Adult Education. David comes from an immigrant family and is a settler of Korean ancestry on Treaty 13 territory in Toronto and has had a long commitment to equity work through his time as a graduate student (his doctoral thesis was focused on the experience of first-generation students) and as a member of the University of Toronto community. He is also Chair of the Positive Space Committee on the St. George Campus and was recently a Co-Chair for the staff working group of the Anti-Asian Racism Working Group at U of T. He was also very recently part of a small team within Spaces & Experiences that developed a framework for an EDI action plan that included the administration of a survey and several focus groups that was focused on developing a better understanding of the experience of employees within the division through an EDI lens.

Rose Patten

Rose Patten (She / Her)

Rose Patten is the 34th Chancellor of the University of Toronto, where she is also Executive in Residence and Adjunct Professor in executive leadership programs at the Rotman School of Management, a member of Massey College, and a distinguished former Chair of the Governing Council. Currently Special Advisor to the CEO and Senior Executives at BMO Financial Group, she is well known from her 30-year career as a senior leader in the Canadian financial services industry, and has extensive experience as an advisor in the fields of senior leadership development and succession, strategy execution, and governance, in corporate and community settings. Among many other awards and distinctions, she holds an honorary degree from the University of Toronto, and is a recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, a Member of the Order of Ontario, and an Officer of the Order of Canada.

Mikayla Redden

Mikayla Redden (She / Her)

Mikayla Redden is a mixed race woman: Anishinaabe and Anglo settler heritage. She is a granddaughter, daughter, sister, auntie, helper, and learner. She lives and works on the Tkaronto Purchase but was born and raised on Treaty 20. Though she is a member of Curve Lake First Nation, she was not raised in the community. Her great-grandfather is John 'Jack' Jacobs. Jack was married to her great-grandmother, Edith Marsden of Scugog First Nation. Jack enfranchised himself and his children under section 214 of the Indian Act in March of 1935. This means that they relinquished their Indian identities and assimilated into white settler society. Her family began reconnecting in the 1990s. She has the privilege of walking in two worlds; learning from her relations on and off-reserve, both urban and rural, traditional and contemporary, and is able to apply pieces of those knowledges to her work life, as a librarian at New College. She is passionate about storytelling, anti-racist pedagogies, and amplifying the voices of Indigenous, Black, and People of Colour.

Desmond Wong

Desmond Wong (He / Him)

Desmond is a Chinese Canadian settler living in Mississauga of the Credit River Territory (Toronto). As a librarian, he works with the Indigenous students, faculty, and staff at the University of Toronto. He is interested in solidarity and relational accountability between Asian diaspora and other Black, Indigenous, and Communities of Colour. He believes that working towards Land Back and Indigenous Nationhoods is the only way to be in good relations on these Lands and towards collective liberation.


If you require any accessibility accommodation(s), please email people.events@utoronto.ca, or call 416-978-8587, and we will work with you to make appropriate arrangements.

The Story of Phyllis (Jack) Webstad

Orange Shirt Day is based on the story of Phyllis Webstad, who in 1973, entered the St. Joseph Mission Residential School at the age of six. She was stripped of the orange shirt she was wearing and forced to wear the institutional uniform.

September 30 was chosen to mark the date when trucks and buses would arrive in communities to take children to residential schools. These schools operated in Canada between 1831 and 1996.

Additional Links

Event Partners

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Indigenous Student Services First Nations House logo

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