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  • Vermilion Voice

Orange Shirt Day

VES Grade 5B on Orange Shirt Day. Photo submitted

On September 30, JR Robson, Vermilion Elementary School, and Vermilion Outreach School celebrated Orange Shirt Day. As September 30th was St. Jerome’s Day, St. Jeromes celebrated Orange Shirt Day a day later.

Orange Shirt Day is a day that raises awareness of residential school history and to “commit to the ongoing process of reconciliation,” according to The background of Orange Shirt Day was the story of Residential School Survivor Phyllis Webstad, who wore an orange shirt gifted to her by her grandmother on her first day at St. Joseph Residential School in Williams Lake, BC. The orange shirt brought much excitement to Webstad; however, when she arrived at the school, they stripped her of her clothes, including the orange shirt. Webstad never saw the shirt again.

This instilled a sense of worthlessness in Webstad. She did not understand why the shirt was taken away, and in her year of attending St. Joseph’s Residential School, she received very little consolation. She was 6 years old.

The sense of worthlessness instilled in Webstad when she was young is where the Orange Shirt Day Slogan, “Every Child Matters”, comes from. The day is celebrated on September 30th as that was the day that Indigenous children were taken away from their families to attend residential schools.

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