Children of residential schools remembered on Orange Shirt Day – September 30

Today, September 30, HEU will join with Canadians from coast to coast to recognize Orange Shirt Day: Every Child Matters.

September 30 is a day to remember the atrocious treatment of more than 150,000 First Nations, Métis and Inuit children, who were taken from their families and forced into residential schools to assimilate into white culture.

This marks the time of year when Aboriginal children were removed from their homes and sent away to residential schools.

“It’s a devastating part of our Canadian history, but it’s important that we unite in the spirit of respect, healing, reconciliation and hope for a safer and better tomorrow,” says HEU secretary-business manager Jennifer Whiteside.

“On our path toward reconciliation, the new academic year is the perfect opportunity for schools to introduce, or revisit, their anti-bullying and anti-racism policies.

“Orange Shirt Day is a time for us all to make a commitment to protect future generations of our children from ever experiencing the appalling conditions of residential schools.”

Run by churches and funded by the government, residential schools existed in Canada for more than 100 years. By the time Canada’s last residential school closed in 1996, thousands of Aboriginal survivors had come forward to tell horrific stories of abuse, eventually leading to the establishment of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada in 2008.

The Assembly of First Nations continues to lobby the federal government to officially declare September 30 as Orange Shirt Day. And at 2014 convention, HEU delegates voted to recognize Orange Shirt Day.

The Orange Shirt Day movement, which started in 2013, is to encourage Canadians to wear orange in the spirit of healing and reconciliation. Orange was chosen because in 1973, a young girl named Phyllis Webstad proudly wore a new orange shirt on her first day at St. Joseph Mission Residential School, but it was stripped away from her and replaced by an institutional uniform.

PHOTO: On September 29, HEU's First Nations Standing Committee visited a school in Boston Bar to share food, and deliver books and orange T-shirts to all of the children in the school. It was a wonderful community event to honour First Nations students.

For more information on Orange Shirt Day, visit Every Child Matters.