Victoria School honours residential School survivors during Orange Shirt Day

Victoria School recognized and honoured residential school survivors and their families during Orange Shirt Day on September 26th.

“We would like to acknowledge the Assembly of First Nations, The Office of the Treaty Commissioner and the Saskatchewan School Board Association for sponsoring the T-shirts given to our students and staff for the occasion,” said Jeremy Allard, the Aboriginal Community Worker with Victoria School and KCI.

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“We would also like to show our appreciation to Isabel O'Soup, Tribal Chief; Elders Langford Whitehawk, Stella Pelly and Vincent Cadotte; Jaime Johnson, Good Spirit School Division board trustee; Quintin Robertson, director of education; Mark Forsythe, superintendent of education, and all of our special guests for joining us during our assembly and awareness walk,” he concluded.

Orange Shirt Day is an event that started in 2013, according to information found on the Internet. It was designed to educate people and promote awareness about the Indian residential school system and the impact this system had on Indigenous communities for more than a century in Canada. It is held annually on September 30 in Canadian communities with students and staff being encouraged to wear an orange shirt to school that day.

Orange Shirt Day began as a result of residential school survivor Phyllis Jack Webstad discussing her experience when she arrived at a residential school. On her first day at residential school Webstad had her new orange shirt taken away from her, and her experience is used today to teach students about residential schools and their assimilation practices.

“When I got to the Mission, they stripped me, and took away my clothes, including the orange shirt,” said Webstad on her website. “I never wore it again. I didn’t understand why they wouldn’t give it back to me, it was mine.

“The color 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.”

The date of September 30 was chosen for the annual event because it is the time of year in which Indigenous children were historically taken from their homes to residential schools. The event is similar to "Pink Shirt Day" which is an annual anti-bullying day which many school groups participate in.

This annual event encourages Canadians to learn about the history of residential schools, the information said. Many communities have held memorial walks, film screenings, and public lectures to raise awareness about Indigenous history. Additionally, school boards across Canada have begun to use this event to teach children about residential schools.

The full story about Webstad and Orange Shirt Day may be found on the Internet at

http://www.orangeshirtday.org/phyllis-story.html.