Even though everything looks a little different this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, you can still wear an orange shirt on Sept. 30 to reflect on the legacy of residential schools in Canada.
Orange Shirt Day is a national campaign that recognizes the harm done to children in the residential school system and to commit to the ongoing process of reconciliation.
It began when survivor Phyllis (Jack) Webstad told the story of her first day at St. Joseph’s residential school near Williams Lake.
She was wearing a shiny new orange shirt bought by her grandmother, but when she arrived at the school two-hours away from her home on Dog Creek Reserve, it was taken away from her.
To help commemorate the day, the YMCA of Northern BC has partnered with Adamant Prints to bring orange shirts to its communities.
It’s a company run by Adam Prytula, who ran over 700 km from Prince George to Prince Rupert in 2019 along the Highway of Tears to spread a message of hope.
“We are committed to a community where every child matters and has access to services and programs to help them thrive. We believe an inclusive community is fundamental to children’s success," says Stephanie Deol, spokesperson for the YMCA, in a news release.
"By wearing an orange shirt on Sept. 30, we are affirming our commitment to ensure that every child matters as we focus on our hope for a better future in which children are empowered to help each other."
The shirts are designed by Indigenous artist Erik Prytula and are available for purchase on the YMCA website until Sept. 21.
Proceeds from the shirt sales will support the YMCA Strong Kids Campaign that subsidizes its camps and programs to one in five local children and families.
The community is then invited to show their recognition by wearing their orange shirt on Sept. 30.
Shirts will be available for drive-thru pick-up at the Prince George Family Y on Monday, Sept. 28 between 2 and 4:30 p.m. and Tuesday, Sept. 29 between 9 and 11:30 a.m.
You can learn more about Orange Shirt Day on its official website.