Orange Shirt Day is on October 29 this year and we will be honoring this day on October 30 by having a short assembly.
Overview of Orange Shirt Day
Years ago the Canadian government believed that the children of Indigenous people should dress and speak and act like all the other children and should not live the way they had for many generations. In order to make this happen Indigenous children were taken from their families and sent to live in schools where they could only speak English and where they had to dress and act like all other Canadian children. Children missed their families and forgot how to speak their language. They endured many cruelties and indignities. Today we know this was wrong and we wear orange to remember those children and to remind us that it is ok to keep our traditions and our cultures. It is ok to be different and to be who you want to be.
One of those students was Phyllis Webstand who lived in Dog Creek B.C. When she went to the residential school she had on a new orange shirt that had been bought for her by her granny. When she arrived they took her shirt away and made her wear what all the other students had on which made her feel that no one cared and that she was not worth anything. So the orange shirt that was taken from one child is a symbol of the many losses experienced by thousands of Aboriginal student, their families and their communities over several generations including : loss of family, language, culture, freedom, parenting, self-esteem and worth. That is why we remember them by wearing an orange shirt on Orange Shirt Day and make a commitment to anti-racism and anti-bullying in general. The date of Orange Shirt Day at the end of September was chosen because it is the time of year that children were taken from their homes to residential schools.
As we start our school year it is a good time to recognize the importance of being respectful to everyone and is an opportunity for all of us to come together in the spirit of reconciliation. It is a day of remembrance for what has been lost, but also a day of hope for what might come for this generation and the ones that will follow.