Orange Shirt is a national movement in Canada for Indigenous and non-Indigenous people to come together in the spirit of hope and reconciliation to honour former residential school students whose families and communities have been impacted by the policies and actions of the Government of Canada and the churches that operated the schools.
Orange Shirt Day began in Williams Lake, BC in 2013 at the St. Joseph Mission (SJM) residential school commemoration event and has since spread across the country. The name Orange Shirt Day honours survivor Phyllis Webstad's story of having her shiny new orange shirt taken away from her by school officials on her first day of school at the Mission.
The date of the annual event was chosen because it is the time of year that children were removed from their families and forced to attend residential schools.
Orange Shirt Day inspires Canadians to initiate anti-racism and anti-bullying initiatives in schools and the workplace.
The residential school era began in the early 1870’s, with the last school closing in 1996. More than 150,000 Indigenous, Métis and Inuit children attended these schools, with an estimated 80,000 survivors living today.
In summary, ‘Orange Shirt Day’ is a day to raise awareness of Indian Residential Schools, their history, the impacts they’ve had on Indigenous (First Nations, Metis, and Inuit) children and the intergenerational trauma that has impacted and continues to impact survivors and their families. Though there is still a lot of work to be done, it is a small step towards reconciliation. I encourage you to wear an orange shirt, dress, or an orange anything on Friday, September 30 2022 to show your ongoing support and awareness of these events that affect our people.
Blessings, Reverend Alexander Campbell