On September 30th of each year, we wear orange shirts to honour Residential School Survivors and recognize the harm intentionally perpetuated by the Residential School system. Orange Shirt Day is an opportunity to acknowledge the historical and ongoing violences of settler colonialism and helps us come together to imagine better ways forward. Orange Shirt Day grew from a story that Phyllis Webstad (Stswecem’c Xgat’tem Nation) tells about her own time at a Residential School:
““I went to the Mission for one school year in 1973/1974. I had just turned 6 years old. I lived with my grandmother on the Dog Creek reserve. We never had very much money, but somehow my granny managed to buy me a new outfit to go to the Mission school. I remember going to Robinson’s store and picking out a shiny orange shirt. It had string laced up in front, and was so bright and exciting – just like I felt to be going to school! When I got to the Mission, they stripped me, and took away my clothes, including the orange shirt! I never wore it again. I didn’t understand why they wouldn’t give it back to me, it was mine! The colour orange has always reminded me of that and how my feelings didn’t matter, how no one cared and how I felt like I was worth nothing. All of us little children were crying and no one cared.” – Phyllis Webstad
This September 30th at Indigitization, we reflect on the ways in which the Residential School system has disrupted the transmission of Indigenous languages, traditions, and Knowledges. As well, we celebrate the work of Indigenous communities as they reclaim and revitalize these languages, and cultural practices. We hope that you will join us this year in observing Orange Shirt Day – consider taking some time today to reflect on the complex impacts of the Residential School system, the resiliency of Indigenous peoples, and think about what you can do to help centre Indigenous futurities.
Maya Brassard, September 30th, 2020