Orange Shirt Day 2018 success


author: taylor balfour | news writer

an orange a day / jeremy davis

Another year of remembrance and reconciliation

Every fall, Canada participates in a day meant to remember our past, and hold hope for our future. Orange Shirt Day, this year celebrated on Sep. 30, is a time to remember Canada’s cruel treatment of children in residential schools, and the pain the victims suffered during that time. 

“Orange Shirt Day is a time to respect those who were affected by the residential school system, and especially the survivors who continue to live with the impact of having their culture taken away from them,” explained Kim Ali. 

Ali worked with the Saskatoon Orange Shirt Day Committee to recognize and remember Orange Shirt Day at the The EY River Run Classic, and explained how Orange Shirt Day first came to be. 

“It was started when Phyllis, a young child in British Columbia, was removed from her home to a residential schools wearing a new orange t-shirt,” Ali explained. “As part of the system, no child was allowed to keep any personal items, so the shirt that she loved was lost to her, along with connections to her family, her language, and her culture.” 

“This story portrays what children experienced when they were taken into care by the residential school system. The motto ‘Every Child Matters’ helps us to remember the mistakes of our past and look to a better future.” 

The time of year that the event is annually scheduled is an important factor, too. According to the Orange Shirt Day official website, “The date was chosen because it is the time of year in which children were taken from their homes to residential schools, and because it is an opportunity to set the stage for anti-racism and anti-bullying policies for the coming school year.” 

The website also states that the event is “an opportunity for First Nations, local governments, schools and communities to come together in the spirit of reconciliation and hope for generations of children to come.” 

For years, Canada’s lack of involvement in reconciliation has been a talking point with news organization asking if anything is happening at all. The Globe and Mail wrote an article in 2017 asking if Canada was keeping their reconciliation promises, and CBC released an article asing “How many of the TRC’s calls to actions have been completed?” At the time of this article’s release, the complete to incomplete ratio was 7 to 87. 

Despite this, Ali said her Orange Shirt Day Saskatoon event went smoothly.  

“Many things happened in Saskatoon on September 30 including two large public events – a free pancake breakfast at the Western Development Museum and the EY River Run Classic where more than 30 survivors attended, told stories and participating in the opening ceremonies and descendants of the survivors participating in the race.” 

“This day helps to remind us of our past and the impact it had on people who experienced the residential school system. We want a better future for all children.” 

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