The Chief of the Garden River First Nation says Orange Shirt Day serves as a reminder of the need to create awareness and understanding of the realities and deep impacts of residential schools on Indigenous people.
“We need to make it mandatory for all schools in Canada as a good first step to support, reflect and implement the Orange Shirt campaign,” says Chief Andy Rickard, who is also in favour of the federal government revisiting the idea of making September 30 the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
“This country should not bury or sweep under the carpet the atrocities, impacts, and challenges it has contributed to the struggles of Indigenous people in this country,” he adds. “Speaking and understanding the truth is a necessary component to moving forward in a good way.”
Orange Shirt Day is held on September 30th. Its name stems from the story of Phyllis Webstad, a residential school survivor.
Despite being short on money, Phyllis’ grandmother had purchased a brand-new orange shirt for her first day of school back in 1973. It was one of the first items taken away from Phyllis when she arrived at school.
“The colour 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,” says Phyllis on the Orange Shirt Day website (www.orangeshirtday.org).
“All of us little children were crying and no one cared.”
Chris Oldcorn and Dan Laprade supporting Orange Shirt Day