By Rosalind Russell – Orange Shirt Day is a grassroots Indigenous-led recognition of residential school survivors first observed in 2013.
Inspired by the accounts of Phyllis Jack Webstad, whose personal clothing — including a new orange shirt — was taken from her during her first day of residential schooling, the orange shirts have come to symbolize awareness of the history of residential schools.
It is now a part of the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation.
Her story was read by Espanola Town Clerk Joe Burke as part of the formal ceremonies held in partnership with Noojmowin Teg and the municipality held on Saturday, September 30th at the Oval in Espanola.
People shared stories, prayers, sacred blessings, and a Sacred Fire, as well as a light lunch and social time.
The Day is held to remember and honour the children who did not return home, those lying in hundreds of unmarked graves across the country, and the history of the residential schools.
Photo: Sharing Phyllis Jack Webstad’s story and honouring the children who did not come home were two important aspects of Truth and Reconciliation Day in Espanola. A walk around the Oval also honoured those who lie in unmarked graves at former residential schools in Canada. Photos by Rosalind Russell