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A National Day of Truth and Reconciliation event take place at Fraser River Heritage Park on Sept. 30

Orange Shirt Day originates from the story of Phyllis Webstad’s tragic first day of school

Every year, on September 30th, people across Canada wear orange in order to raise awareness and acknowledge the history and legacies of the Indian Residential School system, which forcibly removed Indigenous children from their families and home communities, and stripped away their language and culture.

These schools operated in Canada in the 1800s and 1900s, with the last one closing in 1996.

Orange Shirt Day originates from the story of Phyllis Webstad’s tragic first day of school at St. Joseph’s Indian Residential School. Phyllis, only six years old at the time, tells her story of a gift from her grandmother, a new, shiny orange shirt. This beloved shirt, was ripped away from her on her first day of school, and now represents a way to show solidarity with survivors of the Indian Residential Schools and their family members.

In partnership with Siwal Si’wes Indigenous Department, School District 75, the City of Mission and the Mission Friendship Centre, a National Day of Truth and Reconciliation event will take place at Fraser River Heritage Park on Thursday, September 30.

Phyllis Webstad, of the Stswecem’c Xgat’tem First Nation, will be a most honoured guest and speaker for this historic first National Day of Truth and Reconciliation.

The event begins at 11 a.m., and attendees are asked to wear orange, as well as bring their own chairs and water. Drums are also welcomed, should anyone wish to participate.

Event parking for Indigenous Elders will be onsite, with additional parking in the Fraser River Heritage Park field, Heritage Park Middle School and Windebank Elementary.

If you would like more information, please contact Vivian Searwar at vivian.searwar@mpsd.ca.