Brockville – The Upper Canada District School Board is a sea of orange today as students and staff from across our vast district wear orange shirts to recognize Orange Shirt Day.
Orange Shirt Day is officially on September 30 and is a legacy of the St. Joseph Mission Residential School (1891-1981). It grew out of an account from residential school survivor Phyllis Webstad, who told her story of how her new orange shirt was taken from her on the first day of school at the Mission. Since 2013, Webstad’s story has become an opportunity to further the discussion on all aspects of the residential school experience and provides a focus for public recognition in Canada about a dark and difficult period in our national history.
“Orange Shirt Day is an opportunity for our teachers, students and staff to openly recognize the injustices that happened in residential schools and how the actions impacted so many young people. Today, classrooms will be talking about the significance of Orange Shirt Day and engaging in learning activities. We want our students to understand that we all belong, we all matter and to carry that message with them each day, throughout their lives, not just on this day,” says Superintendent of Schools and Indigenous Education Jodie Barrett.
The date for Orange Shirt Day was chosen because of its historical significance. This was the time of year that Indigenous children were taken from their homes to attend residential schools operated by the Federal government. In the present day, the date is now an opportunity for Indigenous peoples, local governments, schools and communities to come together in the spirit of reconciliation and hope for generations of children to come.