CCRSB schools observe Orange Shirt Day

CCRSB News: 
Friday, September 29, 2017

Orange Shirt Day was observed by a number of schools across the Chignecto-Central Regional School Board this week. 

Schools hosted assemblies and welcomed leaders from First Nations Communities to explain the significance and history of Orange Shirt Day.  The assemblies were opportunities for everyone to come together in the spirit of reconciliation and hope for generations of children to come.

At Enfield District School, Grade 5 students led the assembly, while the teachers at South Colchester Academy played a prominent role in their school’s Orange Shirt Day event. 

Orange Shirt Day participants wear orange in honour of event founder Phyllis Webstad, a Stswecem'c Xgat'tem First Nation elder. On her first day of residential school, her brand new orange shirt was taken from her and she never saw it again. She says the colour now reminds her of how the feelings of kids at her school, and other residential schools across the country, were not taken into consideration and were ignored. 

Orange Shirt Day is a legacy of the St. Joseph Mission (SJM) residential school commemoration event held in Williams Lake, BC, in the spring of 2013.  It grew out of Phyllis' story, and has become an opportunity to keep the discussion on all aspects of residential schools happening annually. 

Orange Shirt Day is celebrated on Sept. 30, however with that date falling on a Saturday this year, a number of schools chose to honour the day earlier in the week. 

Sept. 30 was chosen for Orange Shirt Day because it is the time of year in which children were taken from their homes to residential schools, and because it is an opportunity to set the stage for anti-racism and anti-bullying policies for the school year.  

From the 1880s until the late 1990s, Canada's residential school system forced approximately 150,000 First Nations, Inuit and Metis children to attend facilities that aimed to remove them from their culture and history. First Nations students faced neglect and abuse in the schools, much of which has been detailed in a report issued by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 2016.  

On Sept. 30, 2013, Webstad organized the first Orange Shirt Day to acknowledge the harm that Canada's residential school system has left in generations of indigenous families and their communities. Since then, Canadians are asked to wear orange as a sign of support each year on Sept. 30. 

For more information on Orange Shirt Day, please visit orangeshirtday.org