Orange Shirt Day: Every Child Matters is September 30
September 26, 2017
Orange Shirt Day: Every Child Matters
Saturday, September 30
Noon – 4 p.m.
(Speeches begin at 1 p.m.)
Orange Shirt Day: Every Child Matters is a grassroots event that acknowledges the harm that Canada's residential school system had on generations of Indigenous families and their communities. Every year on September 30, Canadians are asked to wear orange as as sign of support.
The event is growing in support across Canada and took place in Victoria on Saturday, September 30 from noon – 4 p.m. in Centennial Square. View the event poster [PDF - 402 KB].
Orange Shirt Day is 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. September 30 was chosen because it is the time of year in which children were taken from their homes to residential schools.
Orange Shirt Day: Every Child Matters grew out of Phyllis Webstad’s account of having her sparkly new orange shirt taken away on her first day of St. Joseph Mission residential school. She shared this story during a community commemoration in Williams Lake, BC in 2013.
At the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada in Vancouver two weeks before, the Honourable Justice Murray Sinclair had encouraged Webstad to share her orange shirt story with others. Since then, Orange Shirt Day has become an annual opportunity to keep the discussion happening on all aspects of residential schools.
Residential school survivor Eddy Charlie and friend Kristin Spray organized the Orange Shirt Day: Every Child Matters event in Victoria, which they developed in 2015 while attending the Indigenous Studies program at Camosun College. This year, they partnered with the City of Victoria and Bridges for Women Society to mark the City’s commitment to reconciliation. (Photo above: Eddy Charlie, Phyllis Webstad, Kristin Spray)
Thank you to everyone who was able to attend the event, emceed by local artist Bear Horne who designed this year’s Orange Shirt Day T-shirt. (Photo: Back of T-shirt)
The event began at noon, with a First Nations blessing and welcome at 1 p.m., followed by a flag raising in Centennial Square and a speech by Councillor Gary Sam of the Songhees Nation.
Orange Shirt Day founder Phyllis Webstad, and Kwantlen Nation musician and public speaker Luke Dandurand shared their journeys of reconciliation.
Eddy Charlie and Kristin Spray spoke to the importance of raising awareness about residential schools to honour the close to 4,000 children who died, and the sacrifices that were made by 150,000 residential school survivors and their families across Canada.
Guest speakers included Member of Parliament for Saanich-Gulf Islands and Green Party of Canada Leader Elizabeth May, Member of Parliament for Victoria and NDP House Leader Murray Rankin, Deputy Premier and Minister of Finance Carole James, and Mayor Lisa Helps.
The event included performances by ANSWER drum group and First Nations singer Hannah Gentes. The Greater Victoria Public Library had a table with a display of books on residential schools, and Orange Shirt Day T-shirts were available for purchase for $20.
View the Facebook event.
Where to Get Orange Shirt Day T-Shirts
Starting Wednesday, September 20, Orange Shirt Day T-shirts were available for $20 at Big Wheel Burger’s three locations: Westside Village at 172 Wilson Street, Cook Street Village at 341 Cook Street, and Gateway Village at 703-711 Vernon Avenue.
All proceeds will go towards the production of more T-shirts to increase awareness of this important initiative.
Bear Horne’s design features a bear to help us follow the right path, an eagle to help us have a vision of a bright future, a hummingbird to keep our mind, body and spirit healthy, and a flower to feed the connection of all these elements. (Photo: Front of T-shirt)
Orange Shirt Day T-shirts are available year-round by contacting Eddy Charlie or Kristin Spray at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Local artist Bear Horne trained with Douglas and Perry LaFortune as well as his uncle Francis Horne. While Bear has always been exposed to Salish artwork, he has been carving on a full-time basis since 1998. Horne works with traditional Salish crests and motifs, but he is especially interested in experimenting with unconventional forms and unique symbols. He is primarily a wood carver at this stage and prefers to work in red cedar, creating wood sculptures such as totem poles and talking sticks. Bear Horne met Eddy Charlie and Kristin Spray during their time at Camosun College and became friends.
Phyllis Webstad is Northern Secwpemc (Shuswap) from the Stswecem’c Xgat’tem First Nation (Canoe Creek Indian Band). She comes from mixed Secwepemc and Irish/French heritage, was born in Dog Creek, and lives in Williams Lake, BC. Today, Phyllis is married, has one son, a step-son and three grandsons. She earned diplomas in Business Administration from the Nicola Valley Institute of Technology; and in Accounting from Thompson Rivers University (TRU). Phyllis received the 2017 TRU Distinguished Alumni Award for her unprecedented impact on local, provincial, national and international communities through the sharing of her orange shirt story. Learn more about Phyllis Webstad.
Wiyé.nox, man of sound, was a name gifted to Luke Dandurand from the elders of the Kwantlen Nation and his hereditary Chief Marilyn Gabriel, for his public speaking capabilities and extensive background in music. Wiyé.nox's current work is to educate about the success, accomplishments, pride and passion of his Kwantlen family. Learn more.
Eddy Charlie is a member of Cowichan Nation, a former student at Kuper Island Residential School, and a graduate of Indigenous Studies at Camosun College. He met Kristin Spray in the Indigenous Studies program and a strong bond formed during their learning. Together they developed the Orange Shirt Day event that took place in 2015 and 2016 at Camosun College.
Although there was fear and sadness in taking this step, Eddy felt that someone had to make the journey for others to see that healing could come through sharing and caring. Eddy feels that the start of healing can only come when we begin to acknowledge that the path we are walking is hurting our Nations. Orange Shirt Day is just one small step in that right direction.
In 2013, Victoria resident Kristin Spray attended the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Vancouver, where she was deeply affected by witnessing families share their residential school experiences. This motivated Kristin to enroll in the Indigenous Studies program at Camosun College. It was while in the program, Eddy and Kristin met and became friends. Together they have worked to raise awareness about residential schools and to honour survivors and their families. One of their proudest achievements is bringing Orange Shirt Day to Camosun College and now to the City of Victoria.
Bridges for Women Society
Bridges for Women Society is proud to support Orange Shirt Day in Victoria and believes in supporting all people impacted by residential schools. As an organization that assists survivors of intergenerational trauma, they encourage all Victorians to come out and stand in support of Orange Shirt Day, truly reconciliation in action. Learn more.