Photo courtesy of orangeshirtday.org
Over the next couple days, communities across the province are coming together to honour residential school survivors by wearing an orange shirt for the annual Orange Shirt Day.
While the legacy of Canada’s Residential School System is on the minds of many Canadians on a daily basis, Orange Shirt Day is a way for many to draw attention and discussion to the legacy and impact of the schools.
While the day officially takes place on September 30, many schools and organizations will be hosting events over the next couple days.
The day first began in 2013 as a way to remember a young Indigenous woman, Phylis Webstad, who had her orange shirt removed at her first day at a residential school.
“She said orange always reminded her that it felt like no one cared,” said FSIN Chief Bobby Cameron in a media release. “We wear the colour orange so we can never forget, so we can start the conversations that raise awareness of what happened to our children and our communities.”
He says it is a day for others to reaffirm the survivors of residential schools that they still matter.
“It is a chance for all Canadians to have meaningful discussions and understand the effects of the Indian Residential School legacy and the repercussions it has left behind for Indigenous people and communities,” said Chief Cameron.
The Saskatchewan School Boards Association is also encouraging everyone to wear orange and to reflect on residential schools.
“The history of residential schools is an essential part of our history,” Education Minister Bronwyn Eyre said in a media release. “While it is embedded throughout our elementary and high school curricula, Orange Shirt Day provides an important opportunity for students and school communities to come together in the spirit of reconciliation.”
Events are taking place in Regina, Prince Albert and Saskatoon.
In Prince Albert, festivities are taking place on Friday at the Senator Allen Bird Memorial Gym. Festivities in Prince Albert this year are themed as a birthday party for children of residential schools.
“All the children who attended residential schools were never allowed to celebrate birthdays, so in honour of them, we are holding one,” said Marianne Robilard with Resolution Health and Support for the PAGC.
The singing of happy birthday, a lunch and a speech from Howard Walker with the Office of the Treaty Commissioner, will be taking place at the Senator Allen Bird Memorial Centre in Prince Albert.