Hundreds of Mission students, wearing orange shirts, converged at Fraser River Heritage Park on Friday afternoon.
The group came to observe Orange Shirt Day and to take part in a reconciliation march to Elders at the site of the former Mission Indian Residential School.
The shirts worn bore the message “Every Child Matters.”
The students were met by the elders who attended the residential school. Each student presented a turtle (which represents truth) to the elders with their word of reconciliation on it. The elders were then blanketed and honoured.
Orange Shirt Day (Sept. 30) is a day to remember what happened to First Nations students at residential schools across Canada. It was launched in 2013 in Williams Lake.
The day was inspired by Phyllis Jack Webstad, a Stswecem’c Xgat’tem First Nation elder in Williams Lake who, on her first day at residential school in 1973, was not permitted to wear the orange shirt she had brought to school.
On the website orangeshirtday.org, Webstad explains she was only six years old when she went to the residential school for the first time. She was stripped and all her clothes were taken away. She never saw her shirt again.
Now she says the colour orange reminds her “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,” she wrote on the website.