Orange Shirt Day a call to continue path of reconciliation

Trinity College School students joined people from across Canada to reaffirm their commitment to the process of reconciliation as they took part in Orange Shirt Day on Wednesday, September 30th. Junior and Senior School students donned orange shirts in recognition of the devastating consequences of the residential school system on the lives of Indigenous people.

On behalf of Trinity Students for Social Justice (TSSJ), Grade 12 student Evelyn Maguire wrote, “The most important thing about [Orange Shirt Day] is to recognize the multigenerational impact that residential schools have on the Indigenous people in Canada and to begin the process of national reconciliation by expressing your support for survivors of the Canadian residential school system.”

Orange Shirt Day was founded in 2013 as part of the St. Joseph Mission Residential School Commemoration Project. The school was open from 1891-1981, and one former student, Phyllis (Jack) Webstad, shared her story of wearing a bright orange shirt on her first day at the school when she was six years old. Phyllis’ clothes, including the brand new orange shirt that her grandmother had just bought for her, were taken from her. This action became symbolic of the many ways in which residential school children were made to feel as if they did not matter. Phyllis went on to write two books about her experience, sharing her story so that other residential school survivors would know they are not alone and giving voice to the tragic legacy of the residential school system.

In addition to wearing orange shirts, many students participated in activities in their classes to learn more about the history of the residential school system and the 94 Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. Our Junior School students took part in a special chapel service in commemoration of Orange Shirt Day, led by Canon Don Aitchison.

Below are resources where you and your family can learn more about the residential school system and Canada’s reconciliation process: