Edmonton, AB – The Society for Safe and Caring Schools & Communities is expecting a full house at Edmonton City Hall for the third annual Orange Shirt Day event on Friday, September 28, from 12 noon – 1:00 PM. Students from schools across Alberta will be wearing their Orange Shirts along with indigenous, community and government leaders, to show their support and to bring awareness to this important topic.
Orange Shirt Day is an outcome of the 2013 Joseph Mission Residential School Commemoration Project and Reunion that took place in Williams Lake, BC. The name stems from a story told by former residential school student, Phyllis Webstad, who had her new orange shirt, bought by her grandmother, taken from her as a six-year old girl. She spoke powerfully of how it seemed to her that nobody cared and, in this personal way, her story speaks to the many harms experienced by children in the residential schools. Orange Shirt Day provides the opportunity to discuss all aspects of residential schools and to help continue the work of reconciliation.
“Activities are being planned in communities around the province, and we want to flood social media with #OrangeShirtDay2018 and #EveryChildMatters,” says Barry Davidson, Board President at Safe and Caring. “Orange Shirt Day falls on a Sunday this year, and we are hosting an event in Edmonton, and our first Calgary Orange Shirt Day on Monday, October 1. Orange Shirt Day is a great opportunity to continue the work of reconciliation and show that every child matters.”
The events will include elders, residential school survivors, officials from all levels of government and traditional entertainment. Intergenerational survivor Shaunteya Dase English Eaglechild, who will be speaking in Edmonton, says, “Understanding our past helps to create a pathway for moving forward with reconciliation; understanding each other, and each other’s past traumas also helps us move forward together, for a peaceful future with all generations.”
Safe and Caring has partnered with the Alberta Teachers Association, Edmonton Public School Board, Edmonton Catholic School District and the City of Edmonton to bring Orange Shirt Day to Edmonton again this year. Ongoing sponsorship for Orange Shirt Day across Alberta comes from Morgex Insurance and My Business Solutions, with additional financial support from the Suncor Energy Foundation and Calgary Fire Department. Albertans are invited to wear their Orange Shirts featuring Calgary, AB student Sophie St. Cyr’s design, and share on social media with @SafeandCaring with the hashtags #OrangeShirtDay2018 and #EveryChildMatters.
About Orange Shirt Day
Orange Shirt Day is a legacy of the St. Joseph Mission residential school commemoration event, held in spring 2013 in Williams Lake, BC. It grew out of a former student’s account of having her shiny new orange shirt taken away on her first day of school at the Mission.
The orange shirt is meant to recognize the harm done to residential school students and show a commitment to the principle that every child matters! A date in September was chosen because it is the time of year when children were taken from their homes to residential schools, and it is an opportunity to set the stage for anti-racism and anti-bullying policies for the coming school year. It is also 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.
Pictured above: Sophie St. Cyr, Monsignor Neville Anderson School student (in Calgary) and her winning Orange Shirt Day design. The design is featured on the 2018 Alberta Orange Shirt Day t-shirts.