Phyllis (Jack) Webstad arrived at the Saint John's Mission Residential School in 1973. On her first day they had stripped her of her clothes and took away her new orange shirt, which was never returned.

Some believe the shirt being taken away also symbolized the voice and rights being stripped away from the first nations community.

Now, Orange Shirt Day is celebrated every year across Canada in honour of Webstad. As a reminder not only of residential schools in our past, but the steps we have taken and continue to take today.

Orange Shirt Day falls on September 30th each year, but the group behind the day says that you should participate close to the day with as many people as you can in your community.

So, Vanier's Treaty 4 planned their Orange Shirt Day today (September 29th), so they could celebrate it as a school.

"When we wear our orange shirts it's like saying we are in support of the healing and the reconciliation that we can have in our country and to stand together in unity and show that support," said Samantha Douglas, the teacher adviser for Vanier Collegiate's new Treat 4 group.

The Treaty 4 group began this year at the school, but has huge plans to help bring First Nations culture to the school.

"We had a group of kids who took Native Studies last year and they were just very passionate about the subject," said Douglas. "So this year they wanted to make a group so that we could raise awareness and to celebrate our history, our shared history and our treaty obligations."

This group not only plans to spread this mindset through Vanier, but to various elementary schools, where they have planned blanket exercises with the students to help them better understand our shared history.

Other schools participated today also. Sacred Heart School, St. Agnes School, St. Margret School, St. Mary School, Phoenix Academy and St. Michael School all wore orange today also, showed videos, spread awareness, and did activities all to recognize and celebrate First Nations culture

You can read more about Orange Shirt Day at their website, and learn more about Vanier Treaty 4 on their Twitter page.

 

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