This Friday, schools and school boards across Ontario and Canada will observe Orange Shirt Day to honour and remember the children who attended Residential Schools.
In 1973, six-year-old Phyllis Webstad entered the St. Joseph Mission Residential School, outside of Williams Lake, B.C. For the first day of school, Phyllis wore a brand new orange shirt given to her by her grandmother. Soon after arrival at the Residential School, Phyllis’ brand new orange shirt was removed and she was forced to wear the school’s uniform. Phyllis never saw her orange shirt again. Her tragic story of loss has sparked this initiative to wear an orange shirt on September 30.
Bill Montgomery, the Upper Canada DSB’s Indigenous System Support Teacher, shares how his Eastern Ontario school board is teaching Orange Shirt Day – “September 30 is not just a solitary event, it is a catalyst to the Truth and Reconciliation journey our school communities will travel through this year. We are very fortunate within the UCDSB to possess strong advocates and ambassadors, indigenous and non- indigenous staff and students alike.”