In honour of ETFO’s endorsement to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) of Canada’s Calls to Action, ETFO is committed to moving forward into reconciliation and commemorates the survivors of the residential school system by recognizing the Orange Shirt Day – Every Child Matters Campaign on September 30, 2016.
What is Orange Shirt Day?
In 1973 six-year old Phyllis Webstad was gifted a brand new orange shirt from her grandmother and wore it to the residential (mission) school she attended in British Columbia. Upon her arrival, school officials removed and discarded the shirt from her and replaced it with a school uniform. This greatly impacted the mental and emotional well-being of Webstad and symbolized that “her feelings never mattered”. September 30 was chosen as the date to commemorate all the children that attended residential schools as it was also the time of year that children had to leave their homes and communities to attend the schools. This annual campaign began in 2013 after Webstad shared this experience at a reunion with other survivors. Here is a video clip of Webstad sharing her story found on Shaw TV Northern BC’s story on St. Joseph’s Residential School Stories (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ll1pUrK29MM&feature=youtu.be
Canada’s legacy is a part of our collective history and our journey into reconciliation is also a demonstration of our commitment. It’s important that we support each other in our learning journey and that ETFO provide opportunities and resources for members to be culturally inclusive educators, including teaching about the residential school system. The Orange Shirt Day campaign provides an opportunity for all Canadians to participate in a collective act of reconciliation.
As the campaign embraces the phrase “Every Child Matters” we hope that everyone in our Local will support this campaign and wear orange on Sept. 30th.