Published on October 1, 2019
Orange Shirt Day Recap
When Phyllis Webstad was six years old, she spent the summer preparing for her first year of school at St. Joseph Mission Residential School. The year was 1973 and to make the time special, Phyllis’ granny took her to pick out a brand-new outfit. Out of all things, Phyllis chose a beautiful orange shirt with a lace-up front and she was so proud to be wearing it that she couldn’t wait for her school year to begin. But as soon as she arrived at the Mission, her clothes were taken from her, including her new orange shirt. She never saw her favourite shirt again.
Phyllis’ shirt represents how the feelings, belongings, and lives of residential school children weren’t valued by the administrators. No one cared how they felt, and no one bothered to ensure the safety, security or well-being of those families or children. Since 2013, Orange Shirt Day has become a commemoration of the residential school experience and a way to honour the healing journey of survivors and their families. Above all, it is a demonstration of our shared commitment to the ongoing process of reconciliation.
Orange Shirt Day takes place across Canada every year on September 30th. It opens the door for conversations around the Residential School experience. It is a way to create meaningful discussions about the effects of Residential Schools and the legacy of the trauma they have left behind. It is a day to show survivors that they do indeed matter and every child will matter, from now on.
On September 30th, the City of St. Albert observed Orange Shirt Day to support our own community’s journey towards reconciliation. Residents and staff of the City of St. Albert, Elders, survivors and supporters first met for bannock and tea at St. Albert Place. Following some words from Mayor Cathy Heron, there were cultural learnings and words of reflection shared in honour of the occasion. Participants donned orange shirts to remind survivors and future generations alike that they do indeed matter and that we as a community are committed to reconciliation and remembering.
Last edited: October 4, 2019