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September 30th is Orange Shirt Day. This day is in recognition of the harm residential schools did to children's sense of safety, well-being and self-esteem. On this day we also acknowledge all survivors and victims of Residential Schools.
Orange shirt day came about because of Phyllis Webstad's experience as she entered a residential school in 1973. As six-year-old Phyllis was preparing to go to school, she picked out an orange shirt because it was bright, shiny and encapsulated her feelings of excitement about going to school. When Phyllis got to the school she was stripped of her clothes, including of course her orange shirt and given a school uniform. In her words "The color 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. All of us little children were crying and no one cared." (Phyllis (Jack) Webstad's story in her own words.)
On September 30th we all wear our orange shirts in recognition of Phyllis and all survivors and victims of Residential Schools.
I personally have been affected having my grandmother and mother be victims of the residential school's system.
Let today be a reminder to us all of the strength of our Indigenous peoples and a way for us to reinforce our commitment to listening, learning and practising reconciliation each day.
Valerie Jefferd, NNPBC Indigenous Board Director, NP Councillor