Contributed by Muriel Sampson of the College’s First Nation, Metis and Inuit Student Services Centre
Sunday, September 30 is Orange Shirt Day. It is the fifth annual day in recognition of the damage done by the residential school system.
Orange Shirt Day was inspired by Phyllis Jack Webstad, a Stswecem'c Xgat'tem First Nation elder in Williams Lake, British Columbia. She wore a bright orange shirt to her first day of residential school in 1973 when she was six years old. The shirt was taken from her and, since then, the colour orange has reminded her that her feelings didn't matter. Orange Shirt Day was started in Williams Lake in 2013 to commemorate all residential school survivors.
The orange shirts are a symbol of solidarity. Wearing orange recognizes the many losses experienced by students, and 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.
September was the month that children were removed from their homes.
This day acknowledges that residential schools are a part of our history.
Wearing an orange shirt is a national movement to recognize the experience of those who went to Indian residential schools, to honour them, and show a collective commitment to ensure that every child matters. The initiative calls for every Canadian to wear an orange shirt on September 30 in the spirit of healing and reconciliation.
St. Clair College will be observing Orange Shirt Day on Monday October 1.
More information can be found at www.orangeshirtday.org.
It is important to acknowledge that orange shirt day is a difficult reminder for residential school survivors, and healing is a life-long journey. Wear an orange shirt in honour of those who attended, and for healing. It is the hope of those who attended residential schools that no other child would ever have to live that experience again.
Orange Shirt Day is an opportunity for the St. Clair College community to come together in the spirit of reconciliation and hope for generations of children to come.
We are entering into the era of Truth and Reconciliation. Awareness will lead to understanding, healing and reconciliation for those who have open hearts and minds.
Every child matters.