Orange Shirt Day is an annual event that began as a grassroots movement in Williams Lake, British Columbia
and has since gained international recognition. It is observed on September 30 – this date was chosen by
Indigenous communities because it falls during the time of year in which children were taken from their
homes to residential schools.
The event aims to raise awareness of the history and legacy of Residential Schools in Canada, honours the
experiences and healing journey of Indigenous peoples who attended residential schools in Canada, and
remembers the children who never came home. It has become an important symbol of solidarity and
commitment to both truth and reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in Canada.
The day was founded by Phyllis Webstad, a survivor of the St. Joseph Mission Residential School in British
Columbia. In 1973, on her first day of school, Phyllis had her new orange shirt taken away from her. This action became a symbol of the stripping away of her cultural identity and the traumatic experiences she endured at school. In 2013, Webstad’s story inspired the Orange Shirt Day campaign, which encourages individuals, communities, schools, and organizations, and members of government to wear orange shirts on September 30 to remember the experiences of residential school survivors, to honour the children who were lost, and to promote healing and reconciliation. Through the growth of this movement, awareness has steadily been built around Phyllis’ story and the hundreds of thousands like hers.
Council will be wearing orange shirts with a design by Kristy North Peigan, you can view her artwork here.