The Orange Shirt Day movement started in 2013 to highlight the pain and suffering of generations of Indigenous children who were sent to residential schools across the country. The last residential schools closed less than 25 years ago, after operating for over a century. The colour of the shirt is connected to the experience of Phyllis Webstad who was sent to Cariboo Residential School near Williams Lake, BC, in 1973. Six-years old at the time, Phyllis went to her first day of school wearing a new bright orange shirt. New clothes were a rare thing for the young girl, who was being raised by her grandmother. However, upon arriving at the school, the nuns stripped her of the shirt, forcing her to wear the school’s institutional uniform.
The shirt has gone on to become a symbol of a national movement that recognizes the suffering of Indigenous children at residential schools across the country and to show a renewed commitment to ensure that every child matters.
By wearing and Orange Shirt on Monday September 30th, we will be joining staff and students across the YRDSB, in recognizing the resiliency and bravery of Residential School Survivors.