Orange Shirt Day in Williams Lake. (Black Press Media file photo)

Victoria’s third Orange Shirt Day ceremony encourages education about the residential school system

Public invited to wear orange on Sept. 30

At the end of this month, the City of Victoria invites the public to wear orange and attend the Xe xe Smun eem-Victoria Orange Shirt Day: Every Child Matters ceremony.

Orange Shirt Day is an event that encourages education about the residential school system and the harm it had on generations of Indigenous families and their communities.

The Orange Shirt Day: Every Child Matters initiative came from a woman’s – Phyllis Webstad – account of having her new orange shirt taken away on her first day at St. Joseph Mission residential school. Her story was told during a commemoration in Williams Lake in 2013. Since then, Orange Shirt Day has become a chance to keep discussion about residential schools ongoing.

The Victoria event is organized by residential school survivor Eddy Charlie and friend Kristin Spray.

READ ALSO: B.C. Legislature shines spotlight on Orange Shirt Day

“Orange Shirt Day is the day when we all come together to pay tribute to the residential school survivors for the ultimate sacrifices they made while they were in residential school,” Charlie said. “They sacrificed their language, traditions and their identity but they survived so that one day the next generation can regain that lost part of our history (and) honour the survivors today.”

The Moose Hide Campaign – a movement of Indigenous and non-Indigenous men and boys who are standing up against violence towards women and children – has also partnered with Orange Shirt Day event organizers.

The ceremony will be emceed by Bridges for Women Executive Director Victoria Lea Pruden and will consist of a blessing of the land and welcome followed by a flag raising and a moment of silence to honour those who did not survive residential schools. There will also be Indigenous and non-Indigenous performances.

Guest speakers will include Steve Sxwithul’txw, Michele Mundy and BC Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training Melanie Mark. They will share their personal experience with residential schools and reconciliation.

Sxwithul’txw is from the Penelakut Tribe just off Vancouver Island. He is now a television producer who grew up in Duncan and is a survivor of the Kuper Island Residential School.

Mundy is of Kwakwaka’wakw ancestry and a member of the ‘Namgis First Nation from Alert Bay. She has taught Indigenous stories at Camosun College and is the Indigenous Cultural Safety Facilitator at Island Health.

Mark is Nisga’a, Gitxsan, Cree, Ojibway, French and Scottish and is the first female First Nations MLA of B.C. and the first female First Nations cabinet minister. Her grandparents were forced to go to residential school.

Mayor Lisa Helps will also be joined by other special guests including Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation Scott Fraser who will deem Sept. 30 as Orange Shirt Day in B.C.

READ ALSO: Camosun College shows its colours for Orange Shirt Day

“It is with profound sadness and grief, but also with hope for the future that we once again mark Orange Shirt Day in the City of Victoria,” Helps said. “Orange Shirt Day is an annual opportunity for learning about Canada’s residential school system, hearing the stories of courage and resilience of residential school survivors and intergenerational survivors, and grieving for those who didn’t make it home.”

T-shirts designed by artist Bear Horne, orange blankets and a children’s book by Webstad called The Orange Shirt Story can be purchased for $20 at Big Wheel Burger’s three locations, Caffe Fantastico, Delhi Cafe and Fernwood Yoga Den as well as at the ceremony.

All proceeds go towards supporting the initiative.

The ceremony takes place on Sept. 30 from noon to 3 p.m. in Centennial Square.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Rural Saanich residents urged to take preventative steps ahead of wildfire season

Saanich Fire Department expects another hot, dry wildfire season

Emergency crews respond to crash on Elk Lake Drive

Emergency vehicles are blocking access to the area

‘Seven baths in two days’: Homeless adjusting to life in hotels

Victoria passes motion to allow camping 24-7 in parks until June 25

Youth riding high after Sidney re-opens skate park

Skate park, tennis courts, volleyball court and multi-use court proved popular on the weekend

Peninsula farm stands open for business with COVID-19 restrictions

Growers hopeful shoppers will support local farms

B.C. legislature coming back June 22 as COVID-19 emergency hits record

Pandemic restrictions now longer than 2017 wildfire emergency

POLL: Do you agree with the provincial government’s decision to increase the minimum wage?

B.C.’s lowest-paid workers will be getting a few more dollars to try… Continue reading

COVID-19: B.C. too dependent on foreign food production workers

New B.C. job site links unemployed with farm, seafood work

B.C. businesses ‘can’t shoulder burden’ of COVID-19 sick pay

Trudeau’s plan should be tied to federal emergency aid

RCMP remind public to leave dogs chilling at home on hot days

Dogsafe has designed a Dog in a Hot Car Responder Checklist

Another Asian giant ‘murder hornet’ found in Lower Mainland

This is the farthest east the invasive species has been found so far

B.C. girl left temporarily paralyzed by tick bite sparks warning from family

Mom says parents need to check their kids when they go camping

PHOTOS: Loved ones reunite at an oasis on closed U.S.-Canada border in Surrey

Officials closed the park in mid-March over coronavirus concerns

Feds delay national action plan for missing and murdered Indigenous women

Meanwhile, the pandemic has exacerbated the violence facing many Indigenous women and girls

Most Read