On Monday, September 30, Langara once again participated in the annual Orange Shirt Day event that honours survivors of and those who never returned home from Residential Schools in Canada.
Over 100 orange shirts, buttons, and wristbands were given to students and employees at the start of the day. The day was opened by Elder-in-Residence, Mary Jane Joe and her husband, Wayne Campbell who offered a blessing and prayer circle at the House Post. Several other activities in the Main Foyer followed and a facilitated documentary and dialogue occurred in the B Building. The day closed with a group photo back where it began at the House Post. We are so proud of our community for taking part in this important day. See the photos from Langara’s Orange Shirt Day 2019.
About Orange Shirt Day
Orange Shirt Day is rooted in Phyllis Webstad’s experience at Residential School, shared in her children’s book The Orange Shirt Story. As told in her story book, on her first day, six-year old Phyllis wore a new orange shirt that her grandmother had bought her. Almost immediately upon her arrival to her new school, the orange shirt was taken from her and never returned.
Phyllis Webstad’s story about her experience at Residential School resonates with so many people because of the way she shares the humiliation she felt within her first few moments there. Webstad’s story is similar to others highlighting the fact that children attending Residential schools were not only robbed of their possessions, but also their culture, traditions and worst yet, many times also their dignity.
The theft of her orange shirt has come to represent the legacy of residential schools, their survivors and resistors, and all that was stolen from those who attended these institutions.
For over 125 years Indigenous children suffered abuse and neglect in residential schools run by the Canadian government and religious institutions. The damaging legacies of these schools continue to this day, and highlight Canada’s history of denying Indigenous people access to good education. This is evident as Indigenous people are not yet proportionally represented as students, staff, and faculty in our post-secondary systems in Canada.
By wearing orange we open a dialogue for these issues and set a platform for reconciliation.
Next year, there will be an opportunity for departments to pre-order orange shirts through Indigenous Education and Services and to become more involved. Look for a Post article about this in the new year.
Learn more about Orange Shirt Day:
Director, Indigenous Education and Services