Every Child Matters – Orange Shirt Day

Orange shirt day is recognised annually on September 30 in Canada.

It is a time to reflect on the hardships and loss the indigenous community faced in the times of resedential schools, between the late 1800’s and 1996. It is a time to offer support and healing through reconciliation.

The children and their families suffered mentally, physically and even sexually. Children were taken from their families to face uncertain atrocities in the name of providing “proper education”. They were not allowed to speak their Native tongue or practice or learn their culture and heritage.

Some never returned home and died at the resedential schools. Many were buried in unmarked graves, many parents were not notified of their deaths. Sadly, they were only left to wonder, never getting closure.

As recently as 2021, the graves of over 200 children were discovered at a former residential school site in Kamploops, British Columbia. Because of lost and incomplete records an accurate account of how many indigenous children perished in this dark history of Canada is not available. A conservative estimate puts the count between 4000 to 6000.

Why an orange shirt?

In 1973 Phyllis Webstad attended her first day of resedential school wearing a bright orange shirt that her grandmother had given her. The shirt was quickly taken from her, never to be seen again. She associates the color with her feelings of emptiness, worthlessness and a feeling of despair knowing no one cared about the children in resedential schools.

September 30 was chosen because it was this time of year that children were taken from their homes and families and sent to residential schools.

Show your support, understanding and compassion.
Wear your orange shirt and remember and try to understand what the indigenous people have never forgotten.

Regardless of color, race or financial status EVERY CHILD MATTERS…. always !

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