Orange Shirt Day
Orange Shirt Day, also known as the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, is a Canadian statutory holiday. It was created as an observance in 2013, and is designed to educate people and promote awareness in Canada about the Indian residential school system and the impact it has had on Indigenous communities for over a century—an impact recognized as a cultural genocide, and an impact that continues today. It is held annually on September 30 in Canadian communities, where people are encouraged to wear an orange shirt.Why an orange shirt you may ask? This comes from the story of Phyllis (Jack) Webstad. Read her story from her perspective:
I went to the Mission for one school year in 1973/1974. I had just turned 6 years old. I lived with my grandmother on the Dog Creek reserve. We never had very much money, but somehow my granny managed to buy me a new outfit to go to the Mission school. I remember going to Robinson’s store and picking out a shiny orange shirt. It had string laced up in front, and was so bright and exciting – just like I felt to be going to school!
When I got to the Mission, they stripped me, and took away my clothes, including the orange shirt! I never wore it again. I didn’t understand why they wouldn’t give it back to me, it was mine! The color orange has always reminded me of that and how my feelings didn’t matter, how no one cared and how I felt like I was worth nothing. All of us little children were crying and no one cared.
You can read more about the Canadian Indian Residential School System and watch the Residential School Survivor stories videos.
Warning: These videos contain subject matter that may be disturbing to some visitors, particularly Survivors of the Residential School System. Please call the Health Canada 24-Hour National Survivors Crisis Line at 1-866-925-4419 if you need assistance.