Waterloo Region District School Board (WRDSB) recognizes Orange Shirt Day as a way to honour residential school survivors, those who did not survive, and their descendants. It’s just one of the ways we support, educate and reconcile our relationship with Indigenous people.

We invite students, staff and families to wear orange, whether it is a shirt, pin, ribbon, bracelet, socks, etc., and engage in meaningful conversation as a way to come together and recognize past transgressions towards Indigenous people. Orange Shirt Day is one way we can support each other in this small step toward reconciliation.

Please take a moment to reflect on our country’s past.

What is Orange Shirt Day?

Orange Shirt Day is observed each September 30 and was first launched in 2013. The origin of Orange Shirt Day is based on Phyllis Webstad’s story of entering an Indian Residential School in 1973 and having her new orange shirt removed from her and replaced with a school uniform. Her experience of having her orange shirt being taken from her is symbolic of all that was taken from Indigenous peoples as a result of Indian Residential Schools and is the reason we wear orange on September 30.

For well over a century, Indian Residential Schools were used as a tool to assimilate Indigenous peoples into the dominant Canadian culture. Established in 1892 by the Canadian government, in partnership with churches, Indigenous children were often moved long distances from their families and lived at the schools. Once at school, Indigenous children were forbidden to speak their languages nor practice their cultures and traditions. Living conditions for students in Indian Residential Schools were often harsh and there was often significant emotional, physical and sexual abuse of the students.

WRDSB Orange Shirt Day Activities

WRDSB will acknowledge Orange Shirt Day on Wednesday, September 30, 2020 both in-person and virtually. Please tag images of how you are honouring Orange Shirt Day by mentioning @wrdsb on Twitter or @wr_dsb on Instagram and using the hashtags #OrangeShirtDay and #IndigenousWRDSB.

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