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Orange Shirt Day is September 30th
ORANGE SHIRT DAY: Every Child Matters
Started in 2013, Orange Shirt Day is held annually on September 30th. The goal of orange shirt day is to educate people and promote awareness about the Indian residential school system and the impact this system had on Indigenous communities for more than a century in Canada.
So why do we wear orange shirts? It’s the result of residential school survivor Phyllis Jack Webstad’s experience at a residential school. On her first day at St. Joseph Mission residential school in September 1973, Phyllis had her orange shirt that her grandmother had given her taken away when she first arrived. We commemorate the event on this day because historically, Indigenous children were removed from their homes around September 30th and taken to residential schools.
Phyllis is publishing a children’s book about her experience at residential school and the story behind Orange Shirt Day. She hopes that her experience is used today to teach students about residential schools and their assimilation practices; that people will gain a deeper understanding about the event.
Many schools and organizations across Canada participate annually. Recently, a group of students in Sarnia, Ontario asked for Orange Shirt Day to be lengthened to a week. They believe it will give all students the opportunity to learn and reflect on residential schools and how they affected indigenous youth.
These students are a part of the Indigenous Student Leadership Group at St. Patrick’s catholic secondary school, and they will guide their fellow students through events that will provide valuable information and allow for reflection on the troubled history of Canada’s residential schools.
This annual event encourages Canadians to do more than just put on an orange shirt. It encourages us to learn about the history of our country and acknowledge the harm that Canada’s residential school system has left in generations of indigenous families and their communities.
You can read more about orange shirt day at the following links: