Today marks two concurrent and noteworthy days in Canada – National Truth and Reconciliation Day as well as Orange Shirt Day. Both recognize the tragedy of the residential school system perpetrated on the indigenous people of Canada.
Although I don't remember hearing of Orange Shirt Day until recently, it has been observed for a number of years.
It was the discovery of the 215 unmarked graves at a former residential school in Kamloops that I wrote about here in June that brought it so my attention. Sadly, there have been other discoveries since then.
It was created as an observance in 2013, and is designed to educate people and promote awareness in Canada about the Indian residential school system and the impact it has had on Indigenous communities for over a century—an impact recognized as a cultural genocide, and an impact that continues today. It is held annually on September 30 in Canadian communities, where people are encouraged to wear an orange shirt. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orange_Shirt_Day)
The day honours the lost children and Survivors of residential schools, their families and communities. Public commemoration of the tragic and painful history and ongoing impacts of residential schools is a vital component of the reconciliation process. (https://www.canada.ca/en/canadian-heritage/campaigns/national-day-truth-reconciliation.html)
We call upon the federal government, in collaboration with Aboriginal peoples, to establish, as a statutory holiday, a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation to honour Survivors, their families, and communities, and ensure that public commemoration of the history and legacy of residential schools remains a vital component of the reconciliation process.
I shall wear orange today as we, once again, travel to meet with Heather for a distant park visit at the midpoint between us. I also created this graphic to honour the occasion – of the day, I mean, not of our meting. lol
In a fit of hubris, I both signed it and also added a logo that I have sometimes used on cards. If you click, they should be large enough to see them, although I am sure you can resist that dubious pleasure. Of course, I would gladly and easily remove my watermarks if I needed to use this image elsewhere.
I almost forgot to add the following background information to Orange Shirt Day. It is from Phyllis (Jack) Webstad's experience.
I went to the Mission for one school year in 1973/1974. I had just turned 6 years old. I lived with my grandmother on the Dog Creek reserve. We never had very much money, but somehow my granny managed to buy me a new outfit to go to the Mission school. I remember going to Robinson’s store and picking out a shiny orange shirt. It had string laced up in front, and was so bright and exciting – just like I felt to be going to school!
When I got to the Mission, they stripped me, and took away my clothes, including the orange shirt! I never wore it again.
You can read a little more of her story here.