Every Child Matters: Orange Shirt Day for a Week

September 27, 2017 – Trustees and staff wore orange shirts in the spirit of Reconciliation Tuesday as the Board of Education passed a motion acknowledging Orange Shirt Week from September 25-29 at New Westminster Schools.

Orange Shirt Day honours survivors of the residential school system in Canada

“The purpose of the week isn’t just to wear an orange shirt – but to be a marker of advances of the work that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission is calling for – and for our schools and community to be a welcoming and inclusive learning environment for Aboriginal learners and for all kids,” said school board vice-chair Mark Gifford.

The national movement in support of Orange Shirt Day, which falls on Saturday, Sept. 30 this year,  was started in 2013 by Phyllis Jack Webstad, of the Stswecem’c Xgat’tem First Nation near Williams Lake B.C., in memory of her first day at residential school in 1973. From the moment she was stripped of her orange she, she was made to feel  “no one cared” and that she was ‘”worth nothing.”

The Board encouraged New Westminster Schools staff and student participation in events to mark the occasion. Canada’s Indian Residential Schools forcibly removed nearly 150,000 First Nations, Inuit and Métis children from their families to assimilate them into the dominant culture. More than 130 schools across Canada were built starting in  the 1870s. The last school closed in 1996.