September 30th is the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in Canada, a solemn occasion dedicated to acknowledging the historical and ongoing injustices faced by First Nations, Métis and Inuit. With this day falling on a Saturday this year, we are encouraging all students and staff at Rosedale Heights P.S. to wear an orange shirt to school on Friday September 29th.
The colour of the shirt is connected to the experience of Phyllis Webstad who was sent to Cariboo Residential School near Williams Lake, BC, in 1973. Six-years old at the time, Phyllis went to her first day of school wearing a new bright orange shirt. New clothes were a rare thing for the young girl, who was being raised by her grandmother. However, upon arriving at the school, she was forced to remove her orange shirt and wear the school’s institutional uniform instead.
The orange shirt has gone on to become a symbol of a national movement that recognizes the suffering of Indigenous children at residential schools across the country and to show a continued commitment to ensuring that Every Child Matters. The topic of residential schools first appears in the newly revised Social Studies curriculum in Grade 1, and many educators K-12 will take on this topic as part of their instructional program.
Across the York Region District School Board, staff and students will wear orange shirts on September 29th in the spirit of Reconciliation and to stand in solidarity with survivors and all those impacted by residential schools.