nīkānītān manācihitowinihk | ni manachīhitoonaan

“Let us lead with respect”

September 30 is the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation for all of Canada.

The University of Saskatchewan will remain closed this day which coincides with Orange Shirt Day so students, staff, and faculty can reflect on and participate in this integral day. In 2023, the university will observe the statutory holiday on Friday, Sept. 29, 2023. 

See below for events and programming held throughout the university's Week of Reflection leading up to September 30.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission - Calls to Action

The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation responds to Call to Action 80 from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to Action, which reads:

  1. We call upon the federal government, in collaboration with Aboriginal peoples, to establish, as a statutory holiday, a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation 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.

Orange Shirt Day

Orange Shirt
Based on a commissioned painting created by Woodland Cree and Norwegian artist Vanessa Hyggen, these shirts will be available through Shop USask.

The annual Orange Shirt Day on September 30 opens the door to global conversation on all aspects of Residential Schools.

It is an opportunity to create meaningful discussion about the effects of Residential Schools and the legacy they have left behind. A discussion all Canadians can tune into and create bridges with each other for reconciliation. A day for survivors to be reaffirmed that they matter, and so do those that have been affected. 

Starting Friday, September 22, 2023, wear an orange shirt for the week as a message to yourself and others that you are committed to taking action.

Every Child Matters, even if they are an adult, from now on.

The USask Indigenous Space & Visual Symbols in the Health Sciences Committee has partnered with Shop USask to provide orange shirts to help acknowledge Orange Shirt Day and the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on Sept. 30. Based on a commissioned painting created by Woodland Cree and Norwegian artist Vanessa Hyggen, these shirts will be available through Shop USask beginning Tuesday, Aug. 8.

Proceeds from the sales of shirts featuring Vanessa’s artwork will be directed toward a fund supporting the implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action with a portion of proceeds also being directed toward the artist.

Learn about the history of Orange Shirt Day — the annual event inspired by Phyllis Webstad's personal experience of having her new orange shirt taken away on her first day in the Canadian residential school system.

Vanessa is a Woodland Cree and Norwegian painter and bead artist from nemepith sipihk (Sucker River), in Northern Saskatchewan. She is a member of the Lac La Ronge Indian Band and currently lives in Saskatoon. She earned a Bachelor of Arts with Distinction from the University of Saskatchewan in 2017.

"Some of my favourite childhood memories are of being out on the land, playing with my cousins — being free and unencumbered as childhood should be. This painting represents that feeling of love and safety. The Cree syllabics say kakithaw awâsisak sâkihâwak, meaning every child is loved. The sweetgrass shelters the children and represents not only the teachings of sweetgrass, but also our living culture and medicines, which bring healing and goodness." - Vanessa Hyggen (BA'17)

Proceeds from the sales of shirts featuring Vanessa’s artwork will be directed toward a fund supporting the implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action with a portion of proceeds also being directed toward the artist.

Read more about Vanessa here.

Events and Programming

Leading up to September 30, our USask community is encouraged to participate in a week of reflection on Truth and Reconciliation. We invite everyone to stroll through the Bowl and read the orange banners with the Calls to Action pertaining to post-secondary education, visit the library’s website for suggested reading, podcasts, and movies, and show support through participating in the many activities happening on campus and around Saskatoon.

Monday, Sept. 25, 2023
Time: 11:30 am - 1 pm
Location: Gordon Oakes Red Bear Student Centre

Join your USask community to help open the Week of Reflection in a Good Way.

Elders Norman Fleury, Evelyn Linklater and Florence Highway, Provost and Vice-President Academic Airini, Interim Vice-Provost Indigenous Engagement Angela Jaime, and graduate student Aubrey-Anne Laliberte-Pewapisconias will bring remarks and guest speaker George Desjarlais from Frog Lake First Nation will share a teaching on the Star Blanket.

All are welcome to attend.
Lunch will be provided. Please register to attend.

Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2023
Time: 1:30 pm
Location: Convocation Hall

The College of Kinesiology invites you to an event with Treaty Commissioner of Saskatchewan Mary Culbertson who will be speaking about residential schools and intergenerational trauma, the unmarked graves, and the difficulty and barriers to accessing records.

Join us as we hear from our special guest and reflect on the messages of this important week of reflection leading up to the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

Please note that this event may include mention of topics that are sensitive for some attendees.

All are welcome. 

Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2023
Time: 3:30 pm
Location: Link Gallery, Murray Library

The Blanket Project is a resolution to a significant initiative that began with the discovery of 215 bodies found at Tk’emlúps Residential School. Its original purpose was to tie an orange ribbon for each spirit onto the buildings and objects on the USask campus. Sadly, as more unmarked graves were found across Turtle Island, the need for commemoration grew, resulting in over 9000 ribbons being placed.

Initially, the intention was to burn the ribbons in a sacred fire. However, due to the ribbons’ non-organic nature, it was deemed inappropriate and unsafe to do so. In light of this, the Mistatimōk committee, tasked with guiding the USask community towards meaningful and authentic commemorations related to decolonization and reconciliation, decided on an alternative approach  implementing the ribbons into blankets, incorporating patterns of healing and celebration representing various nations across Turtle Island, including those across the Medicine Line.

The first pattern to be woven will be the 8-pointed star used in achakakohp, the traditional Star Blankets of the nêhiyawak and many other peoples of the plains. The Star Blanket acts as a blueprint for nêhiyawak cosmology and ways of being that connect life on earth to the teachings of the stars and the spirit world. We know the Star Blanket is used to honour, protect, and celebrate an individual. “Receiving a star blanket brings good dreams, prosperity, and protection. The star does not only represent the Morning Star but it's also known as the Creator's Eye, therefore when the Creator is with you, covering you, you are forever safe.”

The blankets will symbolize collective strength, resilience, and a commitment to reconciliation as the community moves forward in acknowledging the painful history and working towards a more inclusive future with Indigenous people. The blanket project is a reminder of the atrocities committed in the past and present day and is a step towards healing and honouring the lives of those affected by the Residential school system.

Everyone in our campus community is invited to attend and learn more about the project and how your unit can participate in this initiative.

Thursday, Sept. 28
Time: 10 am - 4 pm, program at 11 am to unveil TRC and MMIWG banners
Location: Edwards School of Business ground floor

In Edwards, we want to continue our efforts on our collective learning journey and steps towards truth and reconciliation.  

  1. Wear your ‘Every Child Matters” shirt or any other orange shirt. 
  2. Demonstrate your commitments and actions to advance reconciliation by posting a sticky note on the wall in the Edwards lobby (supplies provided) between 10 am and 4 pm.
  3. Join Edwards at 11 am on Sept. 28 for the unveiling of the TRC and MMIWG banners outside our building.
  4. Use the hashtag #ActOnReconciliation to share the action you're taking to social media. 
There is also an Edwards orange shirt design that was created by alumni Dante Carter.

Thursday, September 28
Time: 11 am - 2 pm
Location: Gordon Oakes Red Bear Student Centre

Saskatoon Métis Local 126 invites you to join us to affirm and reaffirm a commitmment to the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action. 

Celebrate the start of the term with a bison bannock burger and drink on us! Meet Métis students, staff and faculty, learn about Saskatoon Métis Local 126, and enter a raffle for prizes.

All are welcome.

Thursday, Sept. 28, 2023
Time: 7 pm
Location: Quance Theatre, College of Education

The USask College of Education is hosting a screening of a film Understanding and Finding Our Way – Decolonizing Canadian Education. It was created by the Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation and produced by an internationally renowned scholar in anti-racist education Dr. Verna St. Denis, and directed by award-winning filmmaker Alison Duke following appropriate protocols and under the guidance of Elder Mary Lee. The screening will be followed by a panel featuring Dr. St. Denis. 

The event is open to the public.

Thursday, Sept. 28 through Saturday, Sept. 30, 2023
Time: Evenings after sundown
Location: Various campus locations

The university will light our buildings and pathways in orange to recognize the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and to reflect on what truth and reconciliation means for our campus community.

We invite everyone to come to campus and take a moment to walk the paths and reflect on the lights and the TRC Calls to Action banners that are installed around the Bowl. 

Huskie Athletics presents a schedule of athletic events featuring special programming. Athletes will wear orange in honour of residential school survivors and their families. 

Sept. 29 is a home game for Huskie football and Sept. 30 will feature a Huskie women's hockey game and a Huskie women's soccer game. Look for special lighting outside Merlis Belsher Place and orange-themed fireworks at Griffiths Stadium in Nutrien Park. 

Tickets for these games are available now.

On Sept. 30, the Dakota Classic will mark the start of the Huskie cross country competitive season. This annual event honours residential school survivors with athletes wearing orange singlets and through a partnership with Saskatchewan Aboriginal Track and Field to include a smudging ceremony, a presentation to First Nations Elders, and a community walk/run to support residential and day school survivors. This year's event is happening at the Dakota Dunes Resort.

Saturday, Sept. 30 to Sunday, Oct. 1, 2023 
Time: 10 – noon
Location: Central Urban Métis Federation (CUMFI), 315 Ave M South

The university invites everyone in our campus community to participate in Reconciliation Saskatoon's annual Rock Your Roots Walk for Reconciliation.

The day will start out with a free pancake breakfast at 8 am outside the CUMFI office. The walk will start at 10 am from CUMFI to the "Where Our Paths Cross" installation in Reconciliation Circle (Victoria Park) and will close with a brief program followed by games in the park.

Saturday, Sept. 30 to Sunday, Oct. 1, 2023 
Location: SaskTel Centre

The Saskatoon Tribal Council is hosting the “Every Child Matters” – In Honour of Reconciliation Pow Wow at SaskTel Centre. Admission is free. Visit the event webpage for programming details and more information.


Resources and initiatives

USask learning resources

Office of the Vice-Provost Indigenous Engagement (OVPIE) website
Learn about how USask is working with our communities on and off campus to uplift Indigenization by advancing initiatives and strategies that promotes Indigenous Knowledges and supports reconciliation and decolonization.

I-Portal: Indigenous Studies Portal
Learn about Indigenization, decolonization, the history of Indigenous Peoples and cultures, and other sudjects available through this Univerity Library resource.

Indigenous Wellness Resources
Supports are available here on campus, in the community and online.

Student Affairs and Outreach
The USask community is encouraged to access support services through Student Affairs and Outreach by calling (306) 966-5757 or emailing intake@usask.ca.

Community resources

Wellness and support
For emotional crisis referral services and information on other health supports from the Government of Canada, residential school survivors can call 1-866-925-4419The Hope for Wellness Help Line is also available to Indigenous peoples across Canada 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for counselling and crisis intervention. Toll-free at 1-855-242-3310 or available via online chat at hopeforwellness.ca.

Reconciliation Saskatchewan
The Office of the Treaty Commissioner is working to support a provincial movement for truth and Reconciliation in the Treaty territory of Saskatchewan.

Saskatoon Tribal Council
The Saskatoon Tribal Council is dedicated to creating a respectful environment that inspires and encourages innovation and leadership while building and strengthening partnerships with communities, individuals and organizations.


Other ways to get involved

Short Course for Indigenization, Decolonization, Reconciliation (IDR)
Sept. 20, 25 and 27, 2023 
Time: 2:30  4:45 pm
Location: Murray GMCTL 50.12 Classroom

Facilitator: Darryl Isbister, Lead, Indigenous Education Initiatives, GMCTL

Designed for faculty/instructors, this short course will help prepare faculty to begin the process of indigenizing their courses and/or making their department Indigenous friendly. Participants will be encouraged to delve into the effects of colonization, power and privilege in relation to knowledge and history of Indigenous peoples. Indigenous knowledges, epistemologies and pedagogies will be introduced.  This short course will be three sessions of two hours each.  By registering for this course you agree to attend all dates and times listed.

Register to attend.

In 2021, the University Library presented the exhibit Not Just Another Day Off: Orange Shirt Day and the Legacy of Indian Residential Schools in the Murray Library to engage visitors to learn about the impact of the Indian Residential Schools through archival documents, published materials, and other physical items from the library’s collections. By considering treaties, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and the TRC Calls to Action, the exhibit connected the Residential schools with anti-Indigenous racism and their combined legacies. It was meant to be a respectful demonstration of the work of generations of Indigenous educators, scholars and community members.

While the exhibit itself is no longer available, USask’s Media Production team captured the exhibit in a video narrated by the curators Donna van de Velde and Deborah Lee. 

research guide created by Métis librarian Sheila Laroque offers a wide variety of resources and invites us to continue our collective learning journey.

Wanuskewin Heritage Park is offering a full day of programming in honour of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. Admission is by donation.

Remai Modern presenting a film screening of Bones of Crows, directed by Marie Clements, at 1 pm on Sept. 30. This screening is free and open to the public

Saskatoon Tribal Council is hosting a pow wow and concert in honour of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. This event is free to attend. Everyone is asked to wear orange.

Our Stories


We acknowledge we are on Treaty 6 Territory and the Homeland of the Métis. We pay our respect to the First Nations and Métis ancestors of this place and reaffirm our relationship with one another.