London, Ontario September 28th, 2017 – On September 30th a bus would arrive at an Indigenous community to ‘collect’ the children. It would deliver them to a residential school. These schools were the source of cultural assimilation, mental, physical and sexual abuse, shame and deprivation. Later the TRC called this process cultural genocide. This abomination was the brain child of John A. McDonald that wished to see the eradication of an Indigenous people that had existed on our lands for thousands of years.
On that bus was a young 13 year old girl named Phyllis Webstad who was wearing a brand new orange shirt. Upon arriving at the school she was stripped and forced to wear a school uniform. It was the beginning of a hell for her that lasted for a year but stayed with her for her entire life.
Every September 30th we all wear an orange shirt to show that every child matters and that we all care. A.I.A.I. Grand Chief Joel Abram says “Orange Shirt Day is a reminder that every child matters, and that we can never forget the experiences of residential school so that it never happens again.” Phyllis’ story is sadly a common one that happened to more than 150,000 Indigenous children. These children were beaten, abused for the sake of the system to ‘take the Indian out of the child’. Today every person stands as one voice by wearing an orange shirt to speak out against this atrocity and show that this part of history will not be forgotten. A.I.A.I. Deputy Grand Chief says “We should wear orange shirts every day to ensure all of our peoples are safe and well.”
We invite the world to share in this effort to remember those children who are no longer with us and those who had to grow up with such terrible memories. Wear an orange shirt on September 30th to show that everyone cares.