Ministers Bennett and Philpott Issue Joint Statement on Orange Shirt Day
From: Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada
OTTAWA, ONTARIO (September 30, 2018) – The Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, Carolyn Bennett, and the Minister of Indigenous Services, Jane Philpott, issued the following statement today:
“On September 30th, we encourage all Canadians to participate in Orange Shirt Day and the events happening across Canada. We will be wearing orange to honour the thousands of survivors, and to encourage all Canadians to learn about the tragic legacy of the residential school system.
Orange Shirt Day was inspired by the childhood story of Phyllis (Jack) Webstad, a residential school survivor. As a special gift for her first day at St. Joseph Mission Indian Residential School, Phyllis’s grandmother bought her a new, bright-orange shirt to wear. When she arrived, her new shirt was forcibly taken from her as Indigenous children were not allowed to keep any clothes or keepsakes from home. Phyllis describes losing her sense of dignity and self-worth as a result of this unjust treatment. She recently published a book titled “The Orange Shirt Story” in which she shares her personal story to help further educate Canadians about the harsh truth of what took place at residential schools and how it has impacted generations of Indigenous children and their families.
Phyllis’ story is one of many examples of the harm inflicted upon the self-esteem and well-being of children who were forced to attend these schools. As we continue our journey towards reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples, we must never forget the tragic impact of residential schools and we must learn from the stories that have been courageously shared by survivors.
Today we acknowledge the denial of rights and wrongdoings of the past, we recognize its present-day impacts, including the trauma carried by thousands of survivors and their families, and we commit to moving forward on the path to reconciliation.
All Canadians have a role to play in reconciliation. On September 30th, we encourage everyone to wear orange as a symbolic gesture and to also take the opportunity to learn more, and educate others, about the legacy of residential schools and its impacts on Indigenous communities today.
Reconciliation involves all Canadians joining together to learn about past injustices and to recognize the important contributions of Indigenous peoples in the future of Canada. It is only by working together that we will be able to make lasting change.”