REGINA – The Saskatchewan School Boards Association is encouraging everyone to wear orange to school today and to reflect on residential schools, for the first officially recognized “Orange Shirt Day” in the province.
“Orange Shirt Day is an opportunity to gather together in our schools and our communities to recognize residential school survivors and their experiences,” said Regina Rochdale MLA Laura Ross on behalf of Deputy Premier and Education Minister Don Morgan. “Saskatchewan students learn about the history of residential schools in a variety of classes starting in elementary and continuing through high school. Ensuring that our citizens understand this part of our history is essential as we move forward with First Nations and Métis people on a path of reconciliation.”
Today has been officially proclaimed as Orange Shirt Day and is part of a larger movement in the country to provide opportunity for First Nations, governments, schools and communities to unite in a spirit of reconciliation and hope for generations of children to come.
“Orange Shirt Day is an opportunity to ensure discussion happens about residential schools,” said Connie Bailey, president of the SSBA. “We know it is important to build understanding about this history of our province and country.”
The Orange Shirt Day movement is a legacy of the St. Joseph Mission residential school commemoration event held in Williams Lake, B.C., in 2013. It grew out of the account of a young girl having her new orange shirt taken away on her first day of school at the mission.
At the SSBA Spring General Assembly in April, members passed a resolution to request that the Government of Saskatchewan officially recognize Orange Shirt Day.
“We are pleased that the provincial government has officially proclaimed this day,” said Vernon Linklater, chair of the SSBA’s Aboriginal Council, which proposed the resolution. “We encourage people across the province to join us in recognizing this day.”