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This year, the Government of Canada has proclaimed September 30 as the ‘National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.’ For almost a decade, this day has been known as ‘Orange Shirt Day,’ a day to honour survivors and acknowledge the lasting damage residential schools caused to indigenous peoples, families and communities. BSF encourages staff to take thoughtful action by learning about the history of the residential school system, wearing an orange shirt as a sign of support for the indigenous people on their healing journey, and participating in indigenous-led community events.
What is the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation?
The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is an opportunity for us to recognize and reflect on the legacy of Canada’s residential school system. For over 100 years up to the late 1990s, over 150,000 First Nations, Metis and Inuit children were forced to attend these schools where they were robbed of their indigenous culture. Many children experienced unspeakable abuse and mortality rates were high.
What is the symbolism of the color orange?
Orange Shirt Day was inspired by the story of survivor Phyllis (Jack) Webstad. Phyllis (Jack) Webstad, from the Stswecem’c Xgat’tem First Nation, received an orange shirt from her grandmother to wear on her first day of residential school. This prized new possession was taken away from her by school officials and never given back.
“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.” - Phyllis (Jack) Webstad
Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada
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