Dressed in orange, students and staff at Revelstoke Secondary School spent Sept. 29, learning the importance of Orange Shirt Day, and the inter-generational harm done to Indigenous children at Canada’s residential schools.
In July, the federal government designated Sept. 30 the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, directing public schools to close, so this year students in Revelstoke wore their orange shirts a day early.
This year marks the ninth annual Orange Shirt Day, started by Phyllis Webstad, a residential school survivor and Stswecem’c Xgat’tem from Williams Lake.
The significance of the orange shirt comes from Webstead’s personal experience in a residential school. In 1973, when she was just six years old, on her first day at St. Joseph’s Residential School in Williams Lake, Webstead’s orange shirt was taken from her.
In 2013, 40 years after that experience, Webstead spoke publicly about the incident for the first time, inspiring many, starting the Orange Shirt Day movement.
The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation responds to Truth and Reconciliation Call to Action 80, in which the federal government states its intent to work with Indigenous people to establish a statutory day to ‘honour survivors, their families, and communities, and ensure that public commemoration of the history and legacy of residential schools remains a vital component of the reconciliation process’.