You may have heard of an event called Orange Shirt Day.
Orange Shirt Day promotes awareness of Canada’s Residential School System and honours residential school survivors. The day also represents reconciliation and hope for future generations through its anti-racism and anti-bullying slogan, Every Child Matters.
Origin of Orange Shirt Day
Orange Shirt Day is a legacy of the St. Joseph Mission Residential School Commemoration Project and Reunion that took place in 2013.
St. Joseph Mission was located in Williams Lake, B.C., and was open for the period of 1891-1981. This project brought together former students and their families to commemorate the residential school experience and commit to ongoing reconciliation.
Residential school survivor and spokesperson for the Commemoration Project and Reunion, Phyllis Webstad, shared her story of wearing a shiny new orange shirt given to her by her grandmother on the first day of school at the mission.
When she arrived, she was stripped and her clothes were taken away, including her orange shirt.
This story of being stripped of one’s identity and culture was one that the survivors nationwide could relate to and it gained interest and momentum across the country.
Why Sept. 30
This date was selected as it was the time of year children were taken from their homes and sent to residential schools.
What you can do
On Orange Shirt Day (Sept. 30), I hope you’ll all take some time to learn, reflect upon, and celebrate Indigenous culture.