September 30 is Orange Shirt Day, an annual opportunity for community discussion and healing around the legacy of residential schools in Canada to occur. Each year we learn more about the horrors that survivors endured at the hands of the Canadian Government up until the last school was closed in Saskatchewan in 1996.
In the Spring of 2013, a commemoration event took place at the site of St. Joseph’s Mission residential school in Williams Lake, BC. Orange Shirt Day is inspired by the story of Phyllis, a young Indigenous girl who, on her first day of school at the Mission in 1974, had her new orange shirt taken away. September 30 was later chosen as Orange Shirt Day as it falls during the time of year when Indigenous children were torn from their families and forced to enter residential schools.
We observe Orange Shirt Day to commit and recommit ourselves to anti-racism and anti-bullying practices in our schools and workplaces. Teachers incorporate this important learning in to their classroom for students to process and, ultimately, carry the stories and lessons with them throughout their lives.
Orange Shirt Day also serves as a reminder for local governments, schools, institutions, organizations, and communities to actively engage in reconciliation through their work every day.
Every Child Matters, and YWCA Regina extends our love and hope to all survivors, as well as those living with inter-generational trauma that has plagued Indigenous families for decades.