Orange Shirt Day (September 30th) is a day when we honour the Indigenous children who were sent away to residential schools in Canada and learn more about the history of those schools.
C’est une journée pour nous souvenir, et pour nous rééduquer au sujet de l’impact que les pensionnats ont eu sur l’histoire de nos Premières nations.
Today during our grade 8 Social Studies class, we reunited both classes to discuss the significance of Orange Shirt Day. Our conversation led us to a series of key words, which were then written on a small orange t-shirt, to remind each and every one of us of the impact of the residential school system on our First Nations.
Nous voici en classe en écoutant Mrs. Bertrend en train de nous expliquer l’activité qui suivra avec les t-shirts en carton. Les élèves devront y inscrire des mots-clés pour nous rappeler l’histoire derrière les pensionnats.
Orange shirt day is a movement that officially began in 2013 but in reality it began in 1973 when six year old Phyllis Webstad entered the St. Joseph Mission Residential School, outside of Williams Lake, BC. Young Phyllis was wearing a brand new orange shirt for her first day of school – new clothes being a rare and wonderful thing for a First Nation girl growing up in her grandmother’s care – but the Mission Oblates quickly stripped her of her new shirt and replaced it with the school’s institutional uniform.
While she only attended for one year the impact affected Ms. Webstad’s life for many years. “I finally get it, that feeling of worthlessness and insignificance, ingrained in me from my first day at the mission, affected the way I lived my life for many years. Even now, when I know nothing could be further than the truth, I still sometimes feel that I don’t matter.” 
Ms. Webstad’s story is the nucleus for what has become a national movement to recognize the experience of survivors of Indian residential schools, honour them, and show a collective commitment to ensure that every child matters. The initiative calls for every Canadian to wear an orange shirt on September 30 in the spirit of healing and reconciliation.
The date, September 30, was chosen because that was the time of the year the trucks and buses would enter the communities to “collect” the children and deliver them to their harsh new reality of cultural assimilation, mental, sexual and physical abuse, shame and deprivation.
Mrs. Bertrend and Mr. Cinanni