What does an orange shirt make you think of?
If the Cariboo Regional District has its say, you will be reminded that “Every Child Matters.”
That’s the theme of its inaugural Orange Shirt Day, also shared locally by the District of 100 Mile House and School District #27.
It all began with the Remembering, Recovering, and Reconciling – St. Joseph’s Mission Residential School Commemorative Project in May, and a story shared by Phyllis Webstad of Dog Creek.
An Indian Residential School survivor, Webstad was sent to St. Joseph’s at age six and says she was “excited” to be starting school in a brand-new orange shirt her grandmother bought her for the event.
Like all the other First Nation children, who for many decades, were removed from their families and sent away to residential schools, Webstad explains she was immediately stripped and given school clothing, and her pretty new shirt was taken away permanently.
Since then, Phyllis says whenever she sees the colour orange it reminds her of the demeaning treatment she underwent at the school, and “the feeling of worthlessness and insignificance” ingrained in her that persisted throughout her life.
In 100 Mile House, the public is invited to join local students in gathering at the 100 Mile House Elementary School gymnasium on Sept. 30 at 1:30 p.m.
The Orange Shirt day ceremony will feature Webstad’s story, and very special guest Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn Atleo.
Then, a presentation by students will be accompanied by Juno award-winning musician Murray Porter.
Folks are also encouraged to wear a commemorative button all month, as well as an orange shirt on Sept. 30, to show their support and recognition that “Every Child Matters.”
Buttons recognizing Orange Shirt Day can be picked up by donation while supplies last at the 100 Mile House Free Press office at 3-536 Horse Lake Rd. (Pinkney Complex) or the CRD office in the South Cariboo Rec. Centre at 175 Airport Rd.
A Facebook page with information and updates is at www.facebook.com/orangeshirtdayeverychildmatters.