Why we wear orange shirts
Today is the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. While I was eating my breakfast a few minutes ago, I was lucky enough to hear some real wisdom from a speaker on CBC radio. I’m sorry, I did not catch the speaker’s name, but the message was clear: many of us want to jump straight to reconciliation, but before we can get there, we need truth. Without truth, there can be no reconciliation.
Today we acknowledge one of those truths: Canada’s treatment of our Indigenous people and communities in the past and at present. On this day we take time to recognize the tragic loss of Indigenous children in the residential school system. Though not all of the missing children have been found, and they may never be, we wear orange shirts to raise awareness and acknowledge that every child matters. The orange shirt symbolizes the systematic and intentional erasure of culture, language, customs, traditions, freedom and self-esteem experienced by Indigenous children over generations and the intergenerational trauma that this has caused.
Participating in Orange Shirt Day is one way to open ourselves up to the truth of our national past. I encourage you all to go further, to consider the many ways in which the nation we inhabit is founded on the mistreatment of others. As we move forward as a school and as people, we need to walk on the path of knowledge.
I strongly encourage you to learn more about Indigenious people in Canada and about their histories.
Here are some resources:
National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, Government of Canada, external link
About Orange Shirt Day and Orange Shirt Society, external link
Reading something great from Indigenous authors here’s the TPL suggestions, external link
Listening to a podcast made by Indigenous People, resources from our friends at UBC, external link
Getting familiar with the APTN, external link
PDF fileReading Canada's residential schools: the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation , external link
Finding personal acts of reconciliation, external link
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Chair, Interior Design at The Creative School
In using and practicing Indigenous words and languages, we normalize their use and allow for Indigenous visibility in our schools and communities.
*“Aaniin” (or “Aanii” in Odawa and some nearby communities) is often used as a greeting. In this instance, it essentially means “how” (e.g., short for “how are you” / “how is your life going”). “Aaniin” can also be used as a question, like “which” or “what.”
**Even the word “miigwech” for “thank you” may have a more recent history than expected. “Mii” and “gwech” are separate words that put together effectively mean “that’s proper/exact/sufficient.” Today, “miigwech” is universally understood to mean “thank you,” as it has for at least 200 or more years.