By Sophia Lopez, September 29 2020 —
Orange Shirt Day, which occurs on Sept. 30, recognizes the experiences of Indigenous peoples and the effects caused by the residential school system in Canada. Orange Shirt Day, which marks the time of year where children were taken from their families to residential schools, is meant to educate and raise awareness for the inhumane treatment of the Indigenous peoples. This year, there will be a community panel with speakers such as the University of Calgary’s Traditional Knowledge Keeper in Residence, Dr. Reg Crowshoe, and Kainai Elder Jackie Bromely, who will share their experiences in the Canadian residential school system.
Originating in Williams Lake, B.C., Orange Shirt Day began in 2013 and since then has grown into a day where we nationally raise awareness about what happened in those residential schools. According to the Orange Shirt Day website, it all started with Phyllis Webstad telling the story of her experience on her first day at St. Joseph Mission Residential School — the brand-new orange shirt her grandmother gave was taken away and since then, orange has been the colour she associates with feeling as though no one cares. Webstad’s trauma gave rise to the creation of Orange Shirt Day and has led many people across Canada to use Sept. 30 as a day to honour survivors who continue to live with the damage done to them.
Due to the maltreatment of Indigenous children in residential schools, the phrase “Every Child Matters” was created in order to promote the wellness of all children and their education in a safe environment. Shirts and other merchandise with the phrase can be purchased on the Orange Shirt Day website.
You can participate by wearing an orange shirt on Sept. 30 along with taking a look at the Orange Shirt Day Facebook page and using the #orangeshirtday on Instagram to show your support for Indigenous peoples and the Orange Shirt Day Society, as they continue to take a stand against racism and bullying.
Aside from the Community Panel: Intergenerational Impact of Residential Schools, ii’taa’poh’top — UCalgary’s Indigenous Strategy — is also partnering with the Calgary Public Library to present a screening of the film Indian Horse. To register for the screening visit the Calgary Public Library website, and to join the community panel register through UCalgary.