On Thursday, September 29, 2016, all in our school communities are invited to participate in Orange Shirt Day: Every Child Matters. It is to honour people who attended residential schools. Participating indicates our collective spirit of reconciliation and hope for future generations.
Orange Shirt Day: Every Child Matters, is an outcome of the St. Joseph Mission Residential School commemoration event that took place in Williams Lake, B.C. Residential schools survivor Phyllis Webstad shared how, at the age of six, her new orange shirt was taken away the day she arrived at the Mission school.
From that moment on, the color orange came to represent pain, loss and trauma for Webstad. She was haunted by the color throughout her life.
Today, the orange shirt, once associated with loss of belonging and self-worth, is now becoming the symbol of recognition of people who attended residential schools. With time and continued awareness, it is also a step towards reconciliation and a commitment to ensure that “Every Child Matters.”
The date was chosen because it is the time of year when children were taken from their homes to residential schools.
Orange Shirt Day is a national movement that has gained momentum in light of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission final report. It is an opportunity to create meaningful discussion about the effects of residential schools and the legacy they have left behind. In addition, Orange Shirt Day is an opportunity for First Nations, local governments, schools and communities to come together in the spirit of reconciliation and hope for generations of children to come.
Nationally the date is September 30 each. We are recognizing it one day early due to the PA Day on Friday, September 30, 2016.