We Are All Treaty People

Orange Shirt Day to Honour Indian Residential School Survivors

  • Published - 27/09/2017
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  • Posted By - City of Saskatoon
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The City of Saskatoon in partnership with Reconciliation Saskatoon is proud to support Orange Shirt Day activities on Sept. 30, 2017. The day aims to raise awareness of the devastating impact of the Indian residential school system on Aboriginal people and our community.

“As an Indian residential school survivor, we were taught to love God but we were also taught how to hate ourselves as native people,” said Frank Badger, Elder and residential school survivor.

“I still experience feelings of inadequacy and a lack of confidence due to the physical and emotional abuse I received at the school. No kids should experience what I did; we must love our kids and look after them no matter what background they have because every child matters.”

From the 1880s until 1996 when the last school closed, 150,000 First Nation, Inuit and Métis children were removed from their communities and forced to attend residential schools across Canada.

Office of the Treaty Commissioner executive director Harry Lafond is a residential school survivor.

“I am inspired by Elders like Rose Atimoyoo who said, ‘The bringing up of a child can be likened to braiding a willow. It will grow as you braid it. So it is with a child – what he is taught and what is done with him as a child is how he will grow up, just like the braided willow,’” he said.

“Orange Shirt Day reminds us that love breeds love and pain breeds pain. What do we want for our grandchildren?”

All members of the community are encouraged to get involved by wearing an orange T-shirt or clothing item on Sept. 30 and attend the Community Pancake Breakfast planned to honour residential school survivors.

“Orange Shirt Day is an important day for all members of the community to unite in a spirit of reconciliation and honour residential school survivors, their descendants and the children who were lost,” said Shirley Isbister, president of Central Urban Metis Federation Inc.

“The impact of residential schools goes far beyond the children who experienced it firsthand. Even today, five generations later, my family feels the effects resulting from decades of cultural loss and intergenerational trauma inflicted on families.”
The day grew out of the story of six-year old Phyllis Webstad who wore an orange shirt on her first day of residential school. It was forcefully removed from her and her story is now a powerful reminder of the inter-generational trauma that has resulted from decades of cultural loss.