September 29, 2020
On September 30 each year, Orange Shirt Day is observed to educate and raise awareness about the history of residential schools in Canada and the impact they continue to have on Indigenous communities. It is an opportunity to collectively engage in the reconciliation process by acknowledging the harms residence schools perpetuated and to work together for a better future.
The Orange Shirt is worn as a remembrance of the story of residential school survivor, Phyllis (Jack) Webstad, who had her brand new orange shirt taken away on her first day of residential school at the age of six.
At Queen’s, we all have an important role to play in remembering these stories and working towards reconciliation. As Kanonhsyonne Janice C. Hill, Kandice Baptiste, and I have previously expressed, each member of the Queen’s community has the responsibility and power to create a more open and just society. To do this, we need to approach each other with a good mind and treat one another with respect and kindness.
I encourage Queen’s students, staff, and faculty to dedicate time on September 30 to honouring residential school survivors and reflecting on how they can nurture good relations with Indigenous peoples. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada Report is an important record of the experiences of residential school survivors and the legacy the schools have left behind.
The Aboriginal Teacher Education Program at Queen’s will be hosting a virtual event where additional resources on other Orange Shirt Day events and activities will be shared.
I will be wearing my orange shirt tomorrow, and I encourage all members of the Queen’s community to join me in this visual symbol of our acknowledgement of the need for meaningful reconciliation. If you wish to share your support, you can share photos of your orange shirts on social media and tag @ATEPQueens and @QueensEduc. You can also use the hashtag #ATEPOrangeShirtDay.
Rahswahérha Mark F. Green
Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic)