Orange Shirt Day

Orange Shirt Day
Posted on 10/11/2017

Orange Shirt Day at St. Monica's by Emmett in Gr. 8 If you were to walk through the school on any normal day at St. Monica’s you would see a rainbow of t-shirts: blues, greens, purples and reds. Most students don’t pay much attention to the colour of their top and most people don’t notice or care about the shade of students clothes, but on Thursday, September 28th there was an abnormality in the colours of t-shirts. The majority of all students and teachers were wearing orange t-shirts. This, however was not simply a coincidence and the colour orange hadn’t just randomly shot upward in popularity but there was a reason for the sea of orange t-shirts. That Thursday was, simply Orange Shirt Day. A day to recognize that every child matters and to remember the past and present victims of residential schools.

Now, the majority of kids this age have no idea what went on in the government run residential schools that existed from the 1970s all the way to 1996. Actually, the majority of all Canadians have no idea the horrors that First Nations children were forced to endure when they were systematically removed from their home and family to be assimilated into “white” Canada. That is why the Social Justice Tribe, whose goal is to raise awareness and funds for local and global incentives took on the Orange Shirt Day awareness campaign, to help shed some light on a piece of Canadian history that oftens gets overlooked or ignored.

So, what exactly were residential schools? Residential schools were schools that all aboriginal students in Canada were forced to go. The goal of the Canadian government was to get rid of the “First Nation ” in the child. Kids could be as young as 3 or as old as 16. At these schools children were taken away from their families and home. They weren’t allowed to speak their language or practice their culture. The students were often hurt emotionally and physically abused. The last residential school closed in 1996. The odds of a child dying at a residential school was in fact greater than the odds of a Canadian soldier dying in World War 1.

Residential schools still have a lasting impact today as they are the number one cause of substance abuse and suicide among First Nations people today.

The Orange Shirt Campaign was started by former First Nations student Phyllis Webstad who told the story of her first day at residential school as a six-year old girl. Her shiny new orange shirt, bought by her grandmother, was taken from her. Her story prompted others to to show that they remember all victims of residential schools and to make a promise for ongoing reconciliation in Canada.

So, all in all, thank you to the students and staff of St. Monica’s for showing their support and remembering that every child matters.