In 1884 the Canadian government amended the Indian Act to support the creation of Residential schools. Over 150,000 First Nations, Inuit, and Metis children were forced to attend these schools in an effort to westernize them. Throughout their time at residential school many indigenous students faced widespread abuse and neglect. It was until 1996 that the last residential school closed its doors.
In an article titled September 30: Orange Shirt Day in Canada, author Lorise Simon says, “Orange shirt day is a national movement that officially began in 2013. In actuality this movement began in 1973, when a six-year-old Phyllis Webstad entered the St. Joseph Mission Residential School, outside of Williams Lake, British Columbia. Phyllis’ grandmother had taken her to buy a new outfit for her first day of residential school, part of her outfit was an orange shirt, and on the first day of school she wore the shirt with pride. Phyllis’ shirt was taken from her. Children who attended residential school were stripped of their clothing and made to wear school uniforms. During Phyllis’ experience in residential school she did not believe that her feelings mattered or that anyone cared for her or other children that went to school with her. Phyllis now feels strongly that her feelings do matter and people do care because of what the colour orange symbolized.”
Show support for those who attended residential schools across Canada. As September 30th falls on a Saturday this year, organizations are encouraged to show their support on Friday, September 29th. I encourage everyone who wishes to participate to wear orange next Friday and show your support! For more information visit http://www.orangeshirtday.org/about.html
Simon, Lorise “September 30: Orange Shirt Day in Canada” Mi’kmaq Maliseet Nations News, August 2016, pg. 5