Orange shirt day is a day when we honour the Indigenous people who had been sent away to residential schools in Canada when they were children.
The purpose of the residential schools was to assimilate our Indigenous people into ‘Canadian society.’ Children were removed from their families and housed in residential schools. They were forced to speak English or French and were punished if they spoke their ancestral language. The children were disconnected from their culture and traditions, abused and isolated. Many Indigenous children died and many that survived experienced social/emotional damage that affected their lives and generations after their personal experience.
Orange Shirt Day represents the orange shirt that Phyllis Webstad wore on her first day of school in 1973 at St. Joseph’s Residential School in British Columbia. When Phyllis arrived at the residential school the staff cut her hair and forced her to remove the orange shirt and wear the school’s uniform. The orange shirt was never returned to Phyllis. The colour orange has always reminded Phyllis that she and all the children in the residential schools did not matter. Her story is at the core of the message represented by Orange Shirt Day – “All Children Matter.” The students will be participating in activities throughout the year to learn about this important part of Canadian history.
Today students and staff wore an orange shirt to honour our Indigenous People. The focus this year is “How to be an Ally to Indigenous Peoples in Canada”. Please view this 5 min video fromCBC Kids News.