Statement on Orange Shirt Day

RE: Orange Shirt Day


Today I would like to take a moment to acknowledge Orange Shirt Day. For those of you who are not familiar, Orange Shirt Day was established in 2013 out of the work of the St. Joseph Mission (SJM) Residential School (1891-1981) Commemoration Project and Reunion events that were held in Williams Lake, BC. 

The symbol of the orange shirt comes from the story that former student and spokesperson for the Reunion group, Phyllis (Jack) Webstad, shared about her first day at a residential school. As a six-year-old girl, her new orange shirt that was bought for her by her grandmother was taken away on arrival.

Orange Shirt Day is a day that recognizes the shameful legacy for residential schools, makes space for survivors to share their experiences and work towards healing, and challenge all Canadians to keep the process of reconciliation alive. A phrase that is often used to mark this day is Every Child Matters, even if they are an adult. 

Today is a day to reaffirm that the lives of residential school survivors matter. I encourage members to take this day as an opportunity to have meaningful discussions on the impacts of residential schools and the legacy they have left behind. It is a legacy that we all must contend with. 

The road to change often starts though change within ourselves. With that in mind, I wanted to share a learning opportunity through the University of Alberta, titled Indigenous Canada. It is a 12-week course and can be done on your own time and own pace. You can participate for free. Registration is now open. 

I hope all members can make time for this educational opportunity or ones similar. Change will take time and we must all be a part of it.

In Solidarity,

Marianne Hladun
Regional Executive Vice-President
Public Service Alliance of Canada, Prairies

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