Orange Shirt Day is a day when we honour the Indigenous children who were sent away to residential schools in Canada and learn more about the history of those schools.
The “orange shirt” in Orange Shirt Day refers to the new shirt that Phyllis Webstad was given to her by her grandmother for her first day of school at St. Joseph’s Mission residential school in British Columbia. When Phyllis got to school, they took away her clothes, including her new shirt. It was never returned. To Phyllis, the colour orange has always reminded her of her experiences at residential school and, as she has said, “how my feelings didn’t matter, how no one cared and I felt like I was worth nothing. All of us little children were crying and no one cared.”
The message that Phyllis wants to pass along on Orange Shirt Day — and every day — is that every child matters. Orange Shirt Day was started by Phyllis to educate people about residential schools and fight racism and bullying.