Updated: May 15
What does Every Child Matters mean?
It is an expression of the belief that all children are important, including the ones left behind at residential schools and adults who are still healing from the trauma they endured there.
Why do people wear orange shirts on September 30?
Wearing orange on September 30th aims to raise awareness about residential schools in Canada and brings attention to Phyllis' heart-wrenching story. It's not just Webstad story, as she is just one of more than 150,000 First Nations, Métis and Inuit children who attended Indian residential schools in Canada between the late 1800s and 1996 whom share similar experiences. They also have their stories to tell and sadly, some may not have had the chance to. It is estimated that between four to six thousand children died at residential schools. In these residential schools, children were removed from their families, homes, languages and lands. These schools were operated by the Canadian government and church organizations. A part of official Canadian policy, the residential school system aimed at the complete assimilation of Indigenous people.
What does this bright colour have to do with residential schools in Canada?
Orange shirt is associated with Phyllis Webstad whom is now an adult and is sharing her story. When Phyllis was 6 years old, she received a new orange shirt from her grandmother. She wore it proudly on her first day at a residential school in Williams Lake B.C.
But then school authorities stripped her of her clothes, cut her hair and took her shirt away. She never got it back. The colour orange reminds her of those feelings of how she didn't matter and wasn't cared for.
You can read more about it, here