It is a day inspired by a brave six year old girl. More than four decades ago, Phyllis (Jack) Webstad wore a new orange shirt for her first day at a residential school in British Columbia. When she arrived, she was forced to take the orange shirt off.
"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," Webstad told CBC News in 2016.
Orange Shirt Day is marked every September 30th and Canadians are encouraged to wear orange. Special events will be taking place in many schools across Pembina Trails. Our commitment to reconciliation goes far beyond one day. Pembina Trails has created many Indigenous initiatives, including a Scholar in Residence position in 2018. Kevin Lamoureux is an award-winning scholar, author and has also served as the Education Lead for the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation. He provides leadership, professional development and support to school leaders and teachers.
“For me, Orange Shirt Day is a celebration! It is a celebration of our capacity to empathize with one another as communities,” said Lamoureux. “It honours the resiliency of youth, and of young Phyllis Webstad specifically, who despite the horrors and injustice of Residential Schools grew to be the kind of hero who dedicates her life to spreading the message of Reconciliation. Pembina Trails is a School Division of strong values and ideals. Orange Shirt Day is a beautiful opportunity to express our commitment to leaving behind a better Canada for all of our children.”
Learn more about Orange Shirt Day here.