๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฆ The Story of Orange Shirt Day

Orange shirt Day header2

I support the indigenous people everywhere on the planet. ~ Edward James Olmos


Orange Shirt Day is a legacy of the St. Joseph Mission (SJM) Residential School (1891-1981) Commemoration Project and Reunion events that took place in Williams Lake, BC, Canada, in May 2013. This project was the vision of Esketemc (Alkali Lake) Chief Fred Robbins, who is a former student himself.ย  It brought together former students and their families from the Secwepemc, Tsilhqotโ€™in, Southern Dakelh and Stโ€™atโ€™imc ย Nations along with the Cariboo Regional District, the Mayors and municipalities, School Districts and civic organizations in the Cariboo Region.

Video courtesy ofย johndellca –ย Published on Sep 24, 2016

The events were designed to commemorate the residential school experience, to witness and honour the healing journey of the survivors and their families, and to commit to the ongoing process of reconciliation.ย  Chief Justice Murray Sinclair challenged all of the participants to keep the reconciliation process alive, and as a result of the realization that every former student had similar stories.

Orange Shirt Day is a legacy of this project.ย  As spokesperson for the Reunion group leading up to the events, former student Phyllis (Jack) Webstad toldย her storyย of her first day at residential school when her shiny new orange shirt, bought by her grandmother, was taken from her as a six-year old girl.

The annual Orange Shirt Day on September 30th opens the door to global conversation on all aspects of Residential Schools. It is an opportunity to create meaningful discussion about the effects of Residential Schools and the legacy they have left behind.ย  A discussion all Canadians can tune into and create bridges with each other for reconciliation.ย  A day for survivors to be reaffirmed that they matter, and so do those that have been affected.ย  Every Child Matters, even if they are an adult, from now on.

The date was chosen because it is the time of year in which children were taken from 2013-09-30-09-19-18_2their homes to residential schools, and because it is an opportunity to set the stage for anti-racism and anti-bullying policies for the coming school year. It is an opportunity for First Nations, local governments, schools and communities to come together in the spirit of reconciliation and hope for generations of children to come.

It all started right here in the Cariboo, and as a result, School District No. 27 has been chosen by the First Nations Education Steering Committee (FNESC) to pilot curriculum changes for all Grade 5 and Grade 10 students reflecting the residential school experience, to be implemented province-wide.

Resolutions have been passed in support of Orange Shirt Day by local governments, school districts, and First Nations in the Cariboo and beyond.ย  Most recently the AFN Chiefs-in-Council passed a resolution declaring Orange Shirt Day โ€œa first step in reconciliationโ€, and pledging to bring the message home as well as to the government of Canada and the churches responsible.

On this day of September 30th, we call upon humanity to listen with open ears to the stories of survivors and their families, and to remember those that didnโ€™t make it.

Post pictures of your event or activity, share your story, or simply enjoy others sharing theirs.

Courtesy of The Story of Orange Shirt Day

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We Matter~Indigenous youth who are feeling alone


I Matter~You Matter~We Matter

We Matter is a national campaign designed to share the message to Indigenous youth struggling with suicidal thoughts and other hardships that no matter how hopeless or lonely things feel, there is always a way forward.

Suicide rates for Indigenous youth are several times higher that of other Canadians, as well as instances of addiction, abuse, violence, and many other issues. We believe this doesnโ€™t need to be the case.


Our mandate is to communicate to Indigenous youth that their lives matter, and to provide resources to encourage and support those in crisis while fostering unity and resiliency. We provide a forum for people across the country to share video messages of hope and positivity with youth who are going through a hard time. By sharing our stories, our words of encouragement, and our authentic messages of hope and resilience, we help to make a community stronger. We remind youth that I matter. You matter. We matter.


The We Matter Campaign was concepted in the summer of 2016 by two First Nations with-love-smiley-emoticonsiblings, Kelvin and Tunchai Redvers, whom started We Matter with the belief that hope can be brought to Indigenous youth who are feeling alone.

Growing up in the Northwest Territories, they saw potential to connect Aboriginal youth, and provide help and guidance in an interactive, multi-media format. You can take part – by creating a video, artwork, or story – or simply watching and sharing (to friends, family, facebook, or even schools), you can also visit us atย our website or facebook.


As We Matter grows, we hope to have video, art and written submissions from every Aboriginal community across Canada so that all youth can feel the support of their home community. We encourage you to add your voice. Your feelings of sadness, your feelings of hope, your own lived experience and your resilience can help remind youth why their lives matter. Every voice added makes a real difference.


We are reaching out to share our messages in hard copy formats. Please connect with us if you would like to bring We Matter to your community. info@wemattercampaign.org

itgetsbetter-300x183Our model of sharing messages of hope and resiliency was based on the It Gets Better Project, an initiative to share videos of hope and positivity with LGTBQ youth. These messages remind youth that life becomes easier and gets better if they can get through the difficult teenage years.

We thank the It Gets Better Project for their ongoing support as our Organizational Partner, and encourage you to visit their website for more videos addressing community, strength and resiliency in the face of adversity.



We Matter has only been possible thanks to the kind support of the people and organizations who believe in a world where Aboriginal youth have the resources to overcome hardships, struggles with mental health, and suicidal ideation. Please visit Our Partnersย page to learn more.

Visit We Matter on facebook


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