Canadian Residential Schools, and the effects of colonialism left a stain on Canadian history that many tried to cover up with curriculum and patriotism. (To name a few methods)
However, the extent of the atrocities were too loud to be hidden any longer. So today we can celebrate the fact that survivors can tell their story and the generations that followed can heal. It's a reminder that the real history of Canada is dark, and there is still much work to be done.
Orange Shirt Day events were designed to:
Commemorate the residential school experience
Witness and honour the healing journey of the survivors and their families, and
Commit to the ongoing process of reconciliation.
Orange Shirt Day ensures that none of the survivors' stories are lost, and pays homage to the children who did not make it back, while also prioritizing healing for survivors. Inspired by Phyllis Jack Webstad, who wore a bright orange shirt to her first day of residential school in 1973. The shirt was taken from her and since then, orange has reminded her of how she didn't matter and neither did her feelings.
This feeling resonated with so many, that Orange shirts have become synonymous with the blaring truth of how Canada has treated Indigenous peoples. With shirts bright and orange like a candle flame…shining light on an ugly truth.
The orange shirts are a symbol of solidarity and acknowledgment of the many losses experienced by students, their families and communities, over several generations, including loss of family and culture, language, freedom, parenting, self‐esteem and worth, and painful experiences of abuse and neglect.
This initiative calls for every Canadian to wear an orange shirt on September 30th in the spirit of solidarity, healing and reconciliation. And to ensure that history doesn’t repeat, because Every Child Matters.