On Sept. 30 each year, thousands of people gather across Canada to remember the victims and survivors of residential schools as part of Orange Shirt Day.
The annual event is a chance to have “meaningful discussion about the effects of Residential Schools and the legacy they have left behind,” according to the Orange Shirt Society’s official website.
The event was inspired by the story of Phyllis Webstad, who wore a bright orange shirt on her first day attending a B.C. residential school in 1973, but had the shirt stripped from her, never to be seen again.
“The colour 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,” Webstad wrote on the Orange Shirt Day website. “All of us little children were crying and no one cared.”
Orange Shirt Day is marked at a time of year when children were taken from their homes and sent to these schools. It is also a chance to focus on anti-racism and anti-bullying efforts as the school year kicks off, the organization says.
Orange Shirt Day could soon become a statutory holiday. The federal government has proposed Bill C-369, which would add another such holiday to the calendar and use it to remember those who suffered in residential schools.
Sept. 30 and National Indigenous Peoples Day on June 21 are the two days rumoured for consideration.
In order for the new stat holiday to be recognized across the country, each province and territory would have to change its laws.
In anticipation of #OrangeShirtDay this weekend, many people across the country are participating today. Take time to learn about Chanie Wenjack, an Anishinaabe boy who ran away from Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School, but never made it home. Watch his #HeritageMinute. pic.twitter.com/acCgWeypfl
— Historica Canada (@HistoricaCanada) September 28, 2018
AFN staff gather on Parliament Hill today to help raise awareness that #EveryChildMatters. Make an act of reconciliation today. Join an orange shirt day event near you https://t.co/LbKoofSHrO #OrangeShirtDay pic.twitter.com/Mfvalj2b0S
— AFN (@AFN_Updates) September 28, 2018
— Ralph Goodale (@RalphGoodale) September 30, 2018
On #OrangeShirtDay we recognize the harmful legacy of the residential school system and honour the generations of Indigenous people who carry these scars.
— John Horgan (@jjhorgan) September 30, 2018
On Sunday, September 30th we encourage everyone to wear orange as a symbolic gesture to acknowledge the legacy of residential schools and give hope for generations of children to come. #OrangeShirtDay #EveryChildMatters pic.twitter.com/s1kzCH7FME
— Minister Jane Philpott (@Min_IndServ) September 28, 2018
Orange Shirt Day is about the todays and tomorrows of our children and grandchildren, reflecting on the harm of residential schools and doing everything in our power to ensure we move forward in a good way. #everychildmatters #reconciliation pic.twitter.com/tM5oNDwMMO
— Perry Bellegarde (@perrybellegarde) September 30, 2018
Found Poetry presentation at Glad Park Public School, Stouffville. Mme Flear’s Gr 8 class used the poem by Rita Joe, called “I Lost My Talk” to create Found Poetry, presented for #OrangeShirtDay – remembering the survivors of residential schools, and those who never made it home. pic.twitter.com/XfVcuKZeNT
— Jane Philpott (@janephilpott) September 30, 2018
Today is #OrangeShirtDay, a day where we recognize the survivors of residential schools, and invite communities to join together in the spirit of #reconciliation and hope. #EveryChildMatters#IndigenousRights pic.twitter.com/svIwCyFSE1
— Human Rights Canada (@CdnHumanRights) September 30, 2018
Orange Shirt Day was celebrated by many today. It’s a national day to honour residential school survivors. Sunday is the official day. Thanks to everyone for commemorating my dad & 150,000 other children #everychildmatters pic.twitter.com/uhqzLcs6bL
— Wab Kinew (@WabKinew) September 29, 2018