Orange Shirt Day is on September 30. It’s a day where we wear orange to honour residential school survivors. It happens on September 30, because this was around the time of year that Indigenous children were taken from their families and brought to residential schools. It also serves as an opportunity to set the stage for anti-racism and anti-bullying policies for the coming school year.
How orange shirt day began
In May 2013, in Williams Lake, BC, communities gathered for the commemoration project and reunion events for the St. Joseph’s Mission (SJM) Residential School. Survivors shared some of their experiences. One of the speakers, Phyllis (Jack) Webstad, shared her moving story involving her orange shirt.
Phyllis’ grandmother bought her an orange shirt, which she wore proudly to her first day at residential school. When six-year-old Phyllis arrived at the school, all of her clothes were stripped off of her, and she was made to wear a scratchy wool uniform. Phyllis never saw her orange shirt again. She felt like she didn’t matter.
We wear orange because every child matters
Wearing an orange shirt (or anything orange, even a ribbon) on September 30 shows that you recognize the impact that residential schools have had on multiple generations of Indigenous families. It shows that you understand the need for reconciliation and that you are open to being part of the discussion about the effects of Residential Schools and the legacy they have left behind. It shows that you believe that every child matters!
On Wednesday, wear orange and share a selfie on social media using #orangeshirtday and tag @ocsbIndigenous.