Orange Shirt Day and Mi’kmaq Treaty Day at UNB

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September 30 is Orange Shirt Day in Canada. Its purpose is to bring awareness to the residential school systems that existed in Canada until the 1990’s, and the loss of culture, various forms of abuse, and trauma that they caused to thousands of Indigenous children.

Co-founder of Orange Shirt Day and residential school survivor Phyllis Webstad. (City News Toronto/Website)

History of Orange Shirt Day

Orange Shirt Day was founded in 2013 in Williams Lake, B.C., by the St. Joseph Mission Residential School Commemoration Project to commemorate these tragic events, to bring healing to Indigenous communities, and to commit to reconciliation. 

The colour of the shirt was inspired by one of the survivors of this residential school, Phyllis Webstad. On her first day at her school, she was stripped of her own clothing and belongings, including a new orange shirt that her grandmother had saved money up to buy her for her first day. She never forgot that moment, and orange was chosen as the colour for this reason. 

September 30 was chosen as the date because it is close to the time of year when Indigenous children were taken from their homes to forcibly attend the residential schools. 

You can learn more about this important day by visiting the organizer’s website. For those who won’t be on campus, show your support and spread awareness of this movement to others by taking a picture with your orange attire and posting it on social media and using the hashtag #OrangeShirtDay. 

Mi’kmaq Treaty Day

(Mi’kmaq-Wolastoqey Centre/Facebook)

UNB is also hosting a virtual event on Thursday, October 1 from 6 – 8 p.m. This event is being hosted by the Mi’kmaq-Wolastoqey Centre in recognition of Mi’kmaq Treaty Day, which highlights the relationship between the Mi’kmaq peoples and the Crown, and the importance of these treaties for our country. It also reaffirms the presence of the Mi’kmaq peoples, who have lived on this land since time immemorial. These lands, the Mi’kma’ki lands, span across parts of Atlantic Canada and Quebec. Several Mi’kmaq and Wolastoqey elders and leaders will be speaking at this event. Everyone is welcome to attend.