District School Board Ontario North East is honored to recognize Orange Shirt Day on September 30, 2017. All schools are invited to promote this day as we continue to increase our awareness and understanding of our shared history.
Staff and students are encouraged to wear orange t-shirts on this day (or before) to show support for Canada’s Residential School survivors and to bring attention to the other injustices facing Indigenous children today.
The idea of wearing orange t-shirts was inspired by residential school survivor, Phyllis Webstad. On her first day of school, at the St. Joseph Mission Residential School in Mission, BC, she excitedly wore her brand new orange shirt, only to have it taken away and replaced with an institutional uniform. The orange shirt represents her loss of identity and culture at the residential school.
“The colour orange has always reminded me of how my feelings didn’t matter, how no one cared and how I felt like I was worth nothing,” Phyllis says of her experience at the school. For over one hundred years, approximately 150,000 children were forced to leave their families to attend residential schools. Over 6000 never returned home, and it’s estimated there are over 80,000 former students alive today.
We are committed to increasing our understanding and awareness and welcome opportunities to share our stories together. Please visit www.orangeshirtday.org for more information.