September 30, 2014 is the second annual Orange Shirt Day. The day grew out of a residential school commemoration event held in Williams, Lake BC in Spring 2013. During this event Phyllis (Jack) Webstad, a Survivor of the St. Joseph Mission Residential School described her experience of arriving at the residential school and having an orange shirt that was bought for her by her grandmother taken away from her.
Speaking about her experience Phyllis said that “the colour orange has always reminded me of that and how my feelings didn’t matter, how no one cared and how I felt like I was worth nothing. All of us little children were crying and no one cared.” Phyllis complete story can be viewed here.
As a result of Phyllis’ experience and the 2013 commemoration event Orange Shirt Day was created as a way to inspire conversation around residential schools and reconciliation. Similar to the anti-bullying pink shirt campaigns, the Orange Shirt Day/Every Child Matters campaign encourages people to wear orange and begin discussing the issues behind the cause. Many school boards across Canada are using this as an opportunity to begin discussions of residential schools in their classrooms. More information about Orange Shirt Day can be found on their website and facebook page.