Orange Shirt Day is part of a larger movement in the country to provide opportunity to unite in a spirit of reconciliation and hope for future generations. The movement is a legacy of the St. Joseph Mission residential school commemoration event held in B.C. in 2013, emerging out of the account of a young girl named Phyllis Webstad who had her new orange shirt taken away on her first day of school.
Considering the heartbreaking confirmations of unmarked graves we've witnessed this year, this day represents an opportunity for each one of us to think about residential schools, expand our understanding of this history and commit to growing together through education toward reconciliation.
We wear our orange shirts to show wâhkôhtowin – kinship – with Indigenous communities, especially those still dealing with the effects of residential schools. We spend the day honouring those who never made it home to their families, and those who survived. Learning more about the Truth and working toward Reconciliation is a common goal for all our staff and students. We are blessed by the guidance of Elders and knowledge keepers who spend time regularly in our schools to bring peace and healing, as well as the gift of Indigenous ways of knowing and land-based learning.
The Canadian government proclaimed September 30 as a new national statutory holiday, a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation to honour survivors, their families, and communities. This is a paid day off work for those who work in federally regulated jobs.
Education remains a provincially regulated sector. As such, September 30 is not a day off for our schools. Instead, it remains an important instructional day in our school year, marked with activities and learning which meet the goals and intention of the federally proclaimed day. The Saskatchewan School Boards Association is encouraging school communities, and all residents of the province, to participate in Orange Shirt Day on September 30 by wearing orange, taking the time to reflect on residential schools and observing a moment of silence.
Regina Catholic Schools are located on Treaty 4 territory, the traditional lands of the Nêhiyawak, Nahkawé, Nakota, and homeland of the Métis, Lakota, and Dakota people. Collectively, staff and students are dedicated to growing in Truth and Reconciliation.