Every Child Matters: Orange Shirt Day honours residential school survivors
Orange Shirt Day is an annual display of support and remembrance for the people who were taken from their families and sent to residential schools.
"It's an opportunity to honour the survivors, and those that did not survive, the residential schools," said Leslie Ronaldson, executive director of the Society for Safe and Caring Schools & Communities. "It's important for everyone to know what happened back then, and it actually wasn't that long ago."
Thousands of First Nations, Métis and Inuit children were removed from their homes at this time of year and forced to attend residential schools. The last residential school in Canada closed in 1996.
Orange Shirt Day was inspired by a story shared by a former student – her new orange shirt was taken away on her first day of school.
Wearing an orange shirt as part of this program is meant to recognize the harm of residential schools, to serve as an act of reconciliation and to help fight racism and bullying.
Safe and Caring Schools & Communities invites students to participate in a logo contest every year, and the winning submission becomes the official logo for the year and is featured on t-shirts and more.
Grade 11 student Farrah Ochiese won the 2019 contest. She created her artwork in a single class at school.
"Basically it's like keeping [her] children safe within her, rather just like, letting them go and loose," Ochiese said. "It's like their heart at stake."
National Orange Shirt Day is Sept. 30. In Edmonton, an event is being held at City Hall on Sept. 27 at noon.