Orange Shirt Day will be celebrated tomorrow (Wednesday, September 26) in Williams Lake and 100 Mile House.
Director on the board of the Orange Shirt Day Society, Cora Fraleigh says they’re really excited about their fifth annual event that will be held in Boitanio Park.
“We started this in 2013 and it grew from Phyllis Webstad’s story of having her shiny, new orange shirt that her grandmother bought her for her first day at the St. Joseph’s Mission and it was taken from her when she first arrived at the school,” she says.
“The date of September of 30th was chosen because it’s the time of the year that children were taken from their homes to residential schools, and because of this is it’s an opportunity to set the stage for anti-racism and anti-bullying policies for the coming school year.”
The Society according to Fraleigh has a partnership with Cariboo-Chilcotin School District 27 that will be providing busing for many students to attend the event.
“Orange Shirt Day is an opportunity for first nations local governments, schools, and community members to come together in the spirit of reconciliation and hope for all of the future generations of children to come,” Fraleigh said.
“That is why our statement on many of our orange shirts will says ‘every child matters.’
Orange Shirt Day ceremonies will start in Williams Lake at 10 a.m. The day will see local leaders speak to the movement of reconciliation, and residential school survivor Cecilia Derose also share her story. It will end with drumming by Cheryl and Mike Ratasket.
Celebrations will take place in 100 Mile House at 1 p.m in the ballpark next to the arena.
“This is me and my husband’s home community, and we moved back last year in February,” Fraleigh adds noting that the Orange Shirt Day Society is looking for new members and will have a registration table set up.
“In my former role, I just volunteered to a be part of this because it’s such an important movement in reconciling the harms that have been done through legislation over the last 100 years or even more. I just have a personal passion as part of the healing journey to have people share and for mainstream society to be able to learn what that experience was because there’s not a lot of people who are able to share what happened to them at residential schools.”