Turtle Lodge Trading Post Inc. is an official distributor for the Orange Shirt Society.
September 30th has officially been declared Orange Shirt Day. On this day we call all Canadians to focus and listen with open hearts to the stories of residential school survivors and their families, and to remember those that didn’t make it home. Wearing an orange shirt at public events beyond Orange Shirt Day has also become symbolic of feeding the fire of truth.
Orange Shirt Day and the slogan “Every Child Matters” are legacies 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. It brought together former students and their families from the Secwepemc, Tsilhqot’in, Southern Dakelh and St’at’imc Nations along with the Cariboo Regional District, the Mayors and municipalities, School Districts and civic organizations in the Cariboo Region.
As spokesperson for the reunion group leading up to the events, former student Phyllis (Jack) Webstad told her story of her first day at residential school as a six-year-old girl when her shiny new orange shirt, bought by her grandmother, was stripped from her, along with her dignity, on her first day of school and never returned. The group came to the realization that all survivors had similar stories, and many with far more horrendous experiences. The orange shirt became a symbol for taking back the power that was stolen from this young girl and all children who were prisoners of the system.
The events in May 2013 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. Chief Justice Murray Sinclair challenged all of the participants to keep the reconciliation process alive, and this orange flame of truth and reconciliation continues to spread across the country.
For healing to occur, there must be reconciliation
For reconciliation to occur, there must be truth
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: a discussion all Canadians can tune into and create bridges with each other for reconciliation. Orange Shirt Day is a day for survivors to be reaffirmed that they matter!!
The date was chosen because it is the time of year in which children were taken from their 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 also an opportunity for First Nations, governments, schools and communities to come together in the spirit of reconciliation and hope for generations of children to come.
The Orange Shirt Society developed a curriculum to provide education about residential schools and the true history of our nation. Chilcotin School District No. 27 was 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 were passed in support of Orange Shirt Day by local governments, school districts, and First Nations in the Cariboo and beyond. Most recently the AFN Chiefs-in-Council passed a resolution declaring Orange Shirt Day “a first step in reconciliation”, and pledging to bring the message home as well as to the government of Canada and the churches responsible. We encourage schools all across Canada to embrace this new curriculum and to encourage others to do the same.
A portion of the proceeds for the sale of all products here go to the Orange Shirt Society and other groups involved in this endeavor.
Shayne Hommy, a Grade 11 First Nation Cree student at South Peace Secondary School, in Dawson Creek.
WHAT ORANGE SHIRT DAY MEANS TO ME
She said, “Orange Shirt Day means justice and awareness for indigenous people.
WHAT THE DESIGN IS ABOUT
My design is three little indigenous girls from different tribes, holding hands to represent the unity of our people, (indigenous peoples) resilience and strength throughout the many years of suffering indigenous peoples had to face.”
"As an Indigenous Orange Shirt Society distributor, we are both pained and grateful to witness this historic moment of Canada’s acknowledgement and overwhelming response to the truth about the horrors and consequences of the purposeful assimilation and attempted eradication of the Indigenous people and its culture.
This new air of reality has left many feeling guilt-ridden and disillusioned with our country and its founders. Wearing an orange shirt has become a deeply meaningful and expressive gesture for both victims as well as those struggling to come to terms with the shocking truth of these horrific crimes. In this way, we are becoming a country united in our mourning. From the embers of the past, and our mutual desire to create a better world, we have begun to breathe life into a better future for us all.
The Anishinaabe have an ancient foretelling of this moment in living history. Highly respected Algonquin Elder William Commanda (1913-2011) was the carrier of several ancient wampum belts, one of which is known as the Seven Fires Prophecy. It speaks of a time when mankind must make important choices about their path. The prophecy states that if the right choices are made, it will lead to the lighting of the 8th fire, which will usher in a time of peace and prosperity.
Our people believe in signs. As we continue to watch this growing wave of flame-coloured shirts blazing its way across the country, we are filled with a growing sense of wonder and hope that perhaps indeed this is that long-awaited sign of the lighting of the 9th fire."
~ With respect and gratitude from the team at Turtle Lodge Trading Post Inc.
WHERE AND HOW TO DONATE TO HELP RESIDENTIAL SCHOOL SURVIVORS AND THEIR FAMILIES:
Proceeds from all orange shirts sold at TLTP go to the Orange Shirt Society. However, there are many other organizations you can also contribute to. Here are some links (in no particular order):