Students and staff across the Greater Victoria School District will proudly wear orange next week in support of Orange Shirt Day. The annual event is held on September 30th and brings people together to honour and recognize the impact of Residential Schools.
It is an event that grew from Phyliss Jack-Webstad’s story of having her orange shirt taken from her when she arrived at the Mission Residential School. Her story has now created an opportunity to have larger discussions on the aspects and experiences of the residential school legacy.
This orange shirt taken from one child is a symbol of the many losses experienced by thousands of students, and their families and communities over several generations. These losses include the loss of family, language, culture, freedom, parenting, self-esteem and worth and painful experiences of abuse and neglect. Wearing an orange shirt is a symbol of defiance against the things that undermine children’s self-esteem, and of our commitment to anti-racism and anti-bullying in general.
Join us and hundreds of others across Canada in wearing an orange shirt on September 30, 2017, to honour and recognize that every child matters. *Please note, this year’s event falls on a Saturday and schools will participate in Orange Shirt Day during the school week.
“I went to the Mission for one year. I had just turned 6 years old. We never had very much money, and there was no welfare, but somehow my granny managed to buy me a new outfit to go to the Mission School in. I remember going to Robinson’s store and picking out a shiny orange shirt. It had eyelets and lace, and I felt so pretty in that shirt and excited to be going to school! Of course, when I got to the Mission, they stripped me, and took away my clothes, including the orange shirt. I never saw it again, except on other kids. I didn’t understand why they wouldn’t give it back to me, it was mine! Since then 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. I finally get it, that the 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…I want my orange shirt back!”
-Phyllis (Jack) Webstad, Dog Creek, BC