(Above) Cpt Crystal Porter, territorial Indigenous ministries consultant, made this beaded orange shirt as part of a beading workshop she hosted in the Prairie Div

Each year, September 30 marks Canada’s National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, also known as Orange Shirt Day, to raise awareness of the impact of Indian residential schools, remember the children who never returned home and honour survivors, their families and communities. The Salvation Army in Canada and Bermuda is committed to recognizing this day and taking intentional steps on the journey to reconciliation.

I reached out to three ministry units to find out how they are walking in reconciliation. I hope their stories inspire you to begin or continue your journey. Remember—reconciliation is not a competition or a checklist, it is walking together in relationship. Whether you are just learning or walking gently with Indigenous partners, each step is important.


Lt Derek Kerr drops off school supplies at St. Frances Cree Bilingual School in Saskatoon
Lt Derek Kerr drops off school supplies at
St. Frances Cree Bilingual School in Saskatoon

According to a 2021 Statistics Canada report, more than half (55.5 percent) of all First Nations people live in Western Canada. In Saskatchewan, where my wife, Lieutenant Angela Kerr, and I serve as corps officers, Indigenous people account for 14.5 percent of the province’s population. We are blessed to be on the journey of reconciliation, together with our fellow Salvationists, in Saskatoon.

In our ministry, we have been intentional in seeking ways we can engage in reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples and lands. In 2023, we began partnering with St. Frances Cree Bilingual School in Saskatoon to provide backpacks and school supplies for Indigenous students, as well as supplying non-perishable food items for the school’s community pantry to assist these same students and their families who are struggling to make ends meet.

On September 28, my wife and I, along with members of our team, will attend a pancake breakfast hosted by the school and will meet with staff, students and families in the spirit of truth and reconciliation.

Lieutenant Derek Kerr is the corps officer at Saskatoon Temple.

Niagara Falls, Ont.

From left, Carrie Stevens, a member of the leadership team at Niagara Orchard CC, and Mjr Nancy Braye, CO, mark Orange Shirt Day
From left, Carrie Stevens, a member of the leadership team
at Niagara Orchard CC,
and Mjr Nancy Braye, CO,
mark Orange Shirt Day

Each year at Niagara Orchard Community Church, we observe Orange Shirt Day. Employees here in Niagara Falls and at our Fort Erie, Ont., site wear orange shirts to show respect for Indigenous nations, recognizing the atrocities that took place at residential schools in our country.

For the last two years, we have held a specific time of remembrance and prayer during our Sunday worship gathering to honour this day. We begin our service with a land acknowledgment, recognizing that the land where we gather was inhabited first by Indigenous nations. We watch a video to educate and remind us about the importance of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. And we observe a moment of silence to pause and remember those children who were so deeply affected by the residential school system, some of whom even lost their lives.

Over these last few years, as the unmarked graves of children who attended such schools have finally been uncovered—graves that Indigenous elders have spoken about for many years—we must come to grips with the heinous treatment of Indigenous Peoples by our government and by the church and seek forgiveness and reconciliation.

As part of our time of remembrance each year, we sing the song Give Us Clean Hands. May this continue to be our prayer as we honour this day:

We bow our hearts, we bend our knees.
Oh Spirit come make us humble.
We turn our eyes, from evil things,
Oh Lord we cast down our idols.

Give us clean hands, and give us pure hearts.
Let us not lift our souls to another.
Oh God let this be, a generation that seeks,
Who seeks your face, oh God of Jacob.

Major Nancy Braye is the corps ministries officer and assistant corps officer at Niagara Orchard Community Church in Niagara Falls, Ont.


At Weetamah Corps, staff have access to a library of Indigenous books
At Weetamah Corps, staff have access to a library of
Indigenous books

As part of our pathway to reconciliation at Weetamah Corps in Winnipeg, we’ve dramatically increased the availability of Indigenous history resources to our staff as part of their ongoing professional development requirement. We’ve had staff audit the University of Alberta’s online course “Indigenous Canada,” offered connections to monthly elder teachings via Zoom and staff have been able to participate in The Salvation Army’s Indigenous book club.  

We’ve now started our own library of books that focus on Indigenous history, survivors’ stories and understanding the Indian Act. We’ve also added several novels by Indigenous author Richard Wagamese to our shelves, which have allowed our staff to immerse themselves in the stories of Indigenous people, often showing the struggles and racism the characters endure, but also their strength and resilience to survive and thrive.  

By encouraging our staff to use their professional development time to learn more about Indigenous people, history and culture, we believe it makes them better equipped to understand their students and clients, appreciate their stories and work toward making Weetamah a safer and more welcoming place to be.  

Mandy Marsland is the business manager at Weetamah Corps in Winnipeg.

For more ideas and resources on how to mark Orange Shirt Day, click here.


On Thursday, September 28, 2023, William Vipond said:

This is a great and unique way to align ourselves with the Indiginous people of Canada. My wife and I live across the river from Kahnawa:ke. We purchase our gas there and have bought assorted merchandise there too. In support of T&R Day, we purchased 2 Orange shirts and plan on wearing them tomorrow in support of the cause.

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