Written by Guest Blogger: Carlie Myke, Outreach Coordinator, Woodland Cultural Centre
Fall is a time for orange. The foliage starts to change, the pumpkin spice lattes come out in full force, but more significantly you might see orange t-shirts around your community. Orange tees are worn every year on September 30th to show support for Survivors of residential schools and their families, an event which sprang from the experiences of a Survivor, Phyllis, from Canada’s west coast.
Phyllis was a young girl who attended St. Joseph’s Residential School in British Columbia in the 1970's; she was excited to wear the new orange blouse that her grandmother had bought for her to the first day of school. When she arrived at the Mission, she was stripped of everything she had, including her orange shirt, and she never saw it again.
Orange shirts have since become a symbol for all the things that Survivors have lost: items and keepsakes, connections with families and communities, languages, cultural histories, and everything else that was taken from them. In Phyllis’ own words, “The colour orange has always reminded me of that and how my feelings didn’t matter, how no one cared, and how I felt like I was worth nothing. All of us little children were crying and no one cared.”
We wear orange shirts to show that we care, and we support Survivors in their healing journeys.
On September 30th
, the Woodland Cultural Centre
is hosting a Gathering for Survivors of Residential Schools and Orange Shirt Day event. Everyone is welcome to join in, and to bring with them messages of love, hope, and support to Survivors and their families. The event will include a Healing Walk down the laneway of the former Mohawk Institute Residential School. The site opens at 10am and the opening ceremonies start at 11am. Please note that the driveway will be closed to traffic for the duration of the Healing Walk, so please arrive on-time!
The Woodland Cultural Centre is also selling Orange Tees with the words “Every Child Matters”; all proceeds of sales go towards the Save the Evidence
project to repair and refurbish the former Mohawk Institute for use as an interpreted historic site. Shirts are $20 each and come in sizes youth small to XL, and adult small to 3XL. Group orders are welcomed, and can be arranged by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Any questions about the Gathering, Orange Shirt Day, or the Save the Evidence
project can be directed to Carlie Myke, Outreach Coordinator at Woodland Cultural, by email at email@example.com