ORANGE SHIRT DAY – SEPTEMBER 30, 2018
Phyllis Webstad was six years old when the new orange shirt she excitedly chose for her first day of school at St. Joseph’s Residential School in Williams Lake, BC was stripped off her back. She never saw the shirt again. This happened in the early 70’s and Phyllis was the third generation of her family to attend this school.
Phyllis says ‘the colour orange has always reminded me of that and how my feelings didn’t matter, how no one cared and how I felt I was worth nothing’. It took Webstad 40 years to find a way to re-frame her experience to fight racism and bullying under the motto “Every Child Matters” – and by using orange.
On September 30, 2013, Webstad organized the first Orange Shirt Day in Williams Lake to acknowledge the harm that Canada’s residential school system has left in generations of Indigenous families and their communities.
And every year on September 30, Canadians are asked to wear orange as a sign of support. Every year a growing number of people participate in the event – from reserves to schools to businesses.
On Sunday, September 30, 2018 the community of Uxbridge will again mark Orange Shirt Day. St. Andrew’s-Chalmers Presbyterian Church, St. Paul’s Anglican Church, Mamawi Collective and the Uxbridge Library are planning a day of activities to mark this date and everyone is welcome. The day will begin with a community church service at 10:30 a.m. at St. Andrew’s-Chalmers Presbyterian Church and members of the community are invited to attend.
At 12:30 p.m. the community is invited to meet in Centennial Park (behind the library) to join in a walk to Elgin Park to mark the occasion. Once at Elgin Park the Meat Merchant will be on hand offering the option to purchase bison burgers and more for those who are hungry. Beginning at 2 p.m. Jacob Charles (First Nation Cultural Tours) along with the Ashunyung Singers will be present at the bandshell for the afternoon’s education and entertainment program. They will be bringing Indigenous artifacts, small drums, the big drum and giving us their history. These will also be used for the singing and dancing which will take place – Men’s Traditional dance, Grass dance, Women’s Fancy dance and the Jingle dance.
While adults are participating here, children will be able to join a program being offered by the library that is geared directly for them. There will be crafts, stories, games, etc. In case of rain, activities will take place in the buildings in the park.
At 6 p.m. there will be a dinner at St. Paul’s Anglican Church. Tickets for this dinner are $25/person and limited to only 100 tickets. Tickets will be available at the library. Following the dinner at 7:30 p.m., there will be a speaker, Matthew Stevens, Cultural Coordinator, Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation and the community is invited to join this program, even if they were not able to get a dinner ticket.
A limited number of Orange Shirt Day tee-shirts will be available for purchase ($15) at the library. Please join us again this year to learn more about Indigenous history and culture and how we may walk together on the path to reconciliation.