Orange Shirt Day
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Orange Shirt Day, held annually on September 30, is an opportunity for Canadians to learn about the legacy the residential school system.
Orange Shirt Day began in William’s Lake, British Columbia in 2013 through the work of a residential school survivor named Phyllis Webstad. When Phyllis was taken to a residential school as a six-year-old, she brought with her an orange shirt that her grandmother had gifted her. That orange shirt was taken away from Phyllis when she arrived at the residential school.
Orange Shirt Day encourages Canadians to work together towards reconciliation and to hear the truth telling that comes from the survivors sharing their stories. September 30 was chosen as the symbolic date that represents when Indigenous children were sent to residential school. It is also the start of a new school year, so a good time to set the stage for anti-racism/anti-bullying in our neighbourhoods.
Orange Shirt Day at NOSM
A group of champions at NOSM have been working to increase awareness about residential schools and the intergenerational impacts. We will be selling unique NOSM Orange Shirts online throughout August and September at $20.00 per shirt. Any profits generated from the sales of the shirts will be placed into an Indigenous Student Bursary at NOSM. The artwork created for NOSM’s Orange Shirt Day campaign comes from Isaac Murdoch and says in bold lettering: Survived. Still here.
The art statement, graciously provided by Isaac, explains his vision for the artwork:
It’s no secret the devastating effects the Residential Schools continue to have on individuals, families, and communities. This image is to commemorate the absolute resilience of Indigenous people as they navigate through healing and resurgence for lands.
The Lodge shown is filled with a family. It is to show that we have full autonomy as Nations over our children, and when we do, we stop the genocide against Indigenous people. The Heart is Love. The flowers represent growth and traditional medicine. These are both needed on our healing journeys. The lightning bolts signify the power of our lodges and the families that sit in them. When people, lodges, and spirit connect, magic happens.
As Indigenous people, we survived and are still here casting medicine across the earth for healing. Isaac Murdoch, Anishinaabe artist and activist
A special Speakers’ Series is being arranged for three dates in September. On September 10, at a NOSM Check Up, we plan to launch NOSM Orange Shirt Day campaign at the School. On Monday, September 16, Dr. Lorrilee McGregor, NOSM Assistant Professor, will be setting the context leading up to and during the era of IRS in Canada and the connection to Orange Shirt Day to further understand the intergenerational effects of residential schools. Then, on the following Monday, September 23, we will be hearing from Dr. Celeste Pedri-Spade, Associate Professor, School of Northern and Community Studies, and the “Azhen giinawaa mazinibii’iganan: Repatriating Indigenous Children’s Artwork in Anishinabe & Algonquin Territory” research project. On Monday, September 30, we endeavour to create a supportive space to hear from those across NOSM’s wider campus of Northern Ontario who are survivors. Two Residential School Survivors will share their story of their survival and resiliency to live a good full life. Please note, Speakers’ Series is subject to change.
The Orange Shirt Day champions at NOSM hope that the strong statement will give you pause to consider how you can work towards reconciliation in your own life and through your work at NOSM.
TRC Call to Action #24: We call upon medical and nursing schools in Canada to require all students to take a course dealing with Aboriginal health issues, including the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Treaties and Aboriginal rights, and Indigenous teachings and practices. This will require skills-based training in intercultural competency, conflict resolution, human rights, and anti-racism.
“The colonial foundations of our country resulted in a relationship between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people that was always unbalanced and unjust. This relationship manifested itself in many ways, including the treatment of Indigenous people as wards of the government, the loss of land and language, and the banning of cultural practices that had sustained the diverse First Nations for millennia.”