National Day for Truth & Reconciliation: Orange Shirt Day
September 30th, traditionally recognized as Orange Shirt Day, has been legislated by the Government of Canada as National Day for Truth & Reconciliation. This federal statutory holiday was created to ensure that the history of the residential schools is not forgotten and the ongoing legacy in our communities is honoured. Similar to Orange Shirt Day, this is an opportunity to create meaningful discussion about the effects of residential schools and the legacy they have left behind. It is also an opportunity for Canadians to create meaningful dialogue and participate in building bridges with each other for reconciliation. This may present itself as a day of quiet reflection and/or a day of learning and sharing.
Algoma District School Board will take time to honour this special day and all it stands for with many schools beginning the day with a Morning Land Acknowledgement and a moment of silence. Schools and other board buildings will fly their flags at half-mast for the week. We are encouraging students and staff, especially those in Grade 5 to 12, to access virtual presentations being offered all week by the National Centre for Truth & Reconciliation.
Due to a number of events happening in the local and surrounding communities, this year, we have not organized a local speaker. Many of the local speakers will be attending an event at Shingwauk Kinoomaage Gamig that day as the Survivors in the local communities are Alumni to the children of Shingwauk. Our teachers and school Leaders are therefore encouraged to invite local speakers into their schools and classrooms beyond Truth and Reconciliation Week and continue the work as a Board throughout the year as we engage in the ongoing learning and work towards our commitment to Truth and Reconciliation.
We invite our communities to join us by wearing orange on September 30th, or by pausing for a moment to remember the solemnity of the day and as a way to remember the effects of residential schools and the legacy they have left behind. Only by working together, with Indigenous students, families, communities and partners, can we fully understand our history and our present, and build a positive future for everyone.
Kina go Binoojii’ag Gch nendaagoziwag
Every Child Matters
Chaque Enfant Compte
The Story Behind Orange Shirt Day - by Phyllis (Jack) Webstad
Many people across Canada have worn an orange shirt to honour the children who survived the residential schools and remember those who did not. This tradition was inspired by Phyllis Webstad’s experience as described in her book Phyllis’s Orange Shirt (excerpt below):
“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
Local Elders Share Their Stories
Shirley is an Elder and Indian Residential School Survivor. In 2015 she who was sworn in as Algoma University's first-ever Chancellor. Shirley is from Chapleau, Ontario, and at the age of five was sent to St. John’s Indian Residential School. She was then transferred to the Shingwauk Indian Residential School at the age of seven, where she remained for six years. In 1981, she helped found the Children of Shingwauk Alumni Association (CSAA), a Survivor organization that has been a leader at the national level on the residential school issue. She remained in a leadership position with the organization for 34 years. Shirley has been recognized for her significant impact on the community, Algoma U and truth and reconciliation efforts.
Barbara is a proud Nishnaabe-kwe, formerly from Wikwemikong Unceded Indian Reserve, who now resides in Garden River First Nation.
Barbara Nolan is an Elder and has been the Language Commissioner for the Anishinabek Nation and has a long history of teaching the Anishnaabe language and has developed many different resources to help with the teaching and learning of Anishnaabemowin including the ‘Nishnaabemdaa’, an Anishinaabemowin language app available for iOS and Android devices. Barbara also teaches Anishinaabemowin immersion on a part-time basis at the Garden River Child Care Centre.
National Day for Truth & Reconciliation: Orange Shirt Day Background, Resources & Ideas
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