Orange Shirt Day – held annually on September 30 — is a legacy of the St. Joseph Mission (SJM) residential school commemoration event held in Williams Lake, BC, Canada, in the spring of 2013. It grew out of Phyllis’ story of having her shiny new orange shirt taken away on her first day of school at the Mission, and it has become an opportunity to keep the discussion on all aspects of residential schools happening annually. 

The date was chosen because it is the time of year in which children were taken from their homes to residential schools, and because it is an opportunity to set the stage for anti-racism and anti-bullying policies for the coming school year. It also gives teachers time to plan events that will include children, to ensure the story and learning are passed on to the next generations.

Orange Shirt Day is also an opportunity for First Nations, local governments, schools and communities to come together in the spirit of reconciliation and hope.

Waterloo Region’s Catholic Schools are proud to mark Orange Shirt Day on Tuesday, October 3, 2017, and honoured to stand in solidarity with all residential school survivors and their families, as together we seek justice, reconciliation and true partnership with our Indigenous brothers and sisters.

As part of this commitment, the school board recently adopted the following land acknowledgement – to henceforth be used at all Waterloo Catholic District School Board events of significance:

I (we) would like to begin by acknowledging that the land on which we gather today is the land traditionally used by the Haudenosaunee*, Anishinaabe** and Neutral People. I (we) also acknowledge the enduring presence and deep traditional knowledge, laws and philosophies of the Indigenous People with whom we share this land today.

*Haudenosaunee (Ho-den-o-show-nee)

**Anishnawbe (Ah-nish-nah-bey)