On Friday, September 28 we will be recognizing Orange Shirt Day. Orange Shirt Day is a day to listen, to learn and to celebrate Indigenous culture.
Orange Shirt Day is a legacy of the St. Joseph Mission residential school commemoration event held in Williams Lake, BC, Canada, in May 2013. This event grew from Phyllis Jack’s story. As a young 6-year-old indigenous girl, Phyllis’ shiny new orange shirt was taken away from her on the first day of school at the St. Joseph Mission. The way she was treated at this residential school made her feel like she didn’t matter, that no one cared, and that she was worthless.
Why Orange Shirt Day?
Orange Shirt Day has become an opportunity for schools and communities to remember the impact residential schools have had on Indigenous culture and on Canadian history.
- This day is designed to acknowledge the 150 000 school-aged Indigenous children forcibly taken from their families and removed from their land by the Canadian government between 1830 and 1990.
- Residential schools were established by the Canadian government to control and transform Indigenous people.
- While attending residential schools, Indigenous students were not allowed to speak their language and were forced to abandon their cultural traditions.
- Thousands of former residential school survivors have come forward with stories of how they were isolated from their families for years, taught they were inferior, and abused in various ways.
- Tragically, over 4000 children dies while attending residential schools.
- In 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada published a report that called on all Canadians to learn about this part of our history and to acknowledge the abuses that many people suffered.
- The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada also invite us to recognize, learn about and celebrate the diverse Indigenous cultures in our country and the valuable contributions of Indigenous people throughout time.
Orange Shirt Day is an opportunity for our school to come together, to honor and remember residential school survivors and their families, to recognize that Every Child Matters, and to be reminded that discrimination or bullying of any kind has no place in our school or society.