One day,while attending her first day at St. Joseph Mission residential school, Phyllis Webstad had her new, sparkly orange t-shirt confiscated.
Since her retelling of this incident in 2013, Orange Shirt Day has become a way for communities to keep the conversation going about all aspects of residential schools.
With the help of residential school survivor Eddy Charlie and his friend Kristin Spray, the day has developed into Orange Shirt Day: Every Child Matters.
“Healing must be done together or all that we accomplish prevents positive growth as a community,” Charlie said in a statement. “Coming together is just the beginning.”
Orange Shirt Day will be hosted by the City of Victoria in conjunction with the Bridges for Women Society and the Songhees and Esquimalt First Nations On Sunday, Sept. 30.
The event will be hosted in Centennial Square at 4 p.m., and include First Nations blessings, followed by a flag raising and a moment of silence to honour and remember those who did not survive residential schools. Over 150,000 residential First Nations, Métis, and Inuit children were forced to attend residential schools, and more than 4,000 did not survive.
There will be story telling by Alex and Nella Nelson, live music performed by the ANSWER drum group and signer Hannah Gentes, and guest speakers including Chief Ron Sam of the Songhees First Nation and Hereditary Chief Edward Thomas of the Esquimalt First Nation.
“Understanding the harmful impacts of residential schools is important to the City’s ongoing work towards reconciliation, and we are honoured to be supporting the second annual Orange Shirt Day ceremony in Victoria,” said Victoria Mayor Lisa Help. “I invite citizens to wear an orange shirt on September 30 to create awareness of the impact of residential schools on the Indigenous peoples in our community and across Canada.”
Orange shirts are available for purchase at Big Wheel Burger’s three locations, at 172 Wilson Street, 341 Cook Street, and 703-711 Vernon Avenue. They cost $20 each, and all proceeds will go towards the production of more T-shirts.
For more information, you can visit orangeshirtday.org