Orange Shirt Day is an act of commemoration of the ‘Indian Residential School’ children, both the survivors and those that were lost. The acknowledgment of the ‘Indian Residential School’ legacy that occurred in North America from the 19th century to the end of the 20th century.
These government-mandated and funded schools forced western society’s approach to education on Indigenous children ages 5-18 years old. Removing the children from their family and community and using corporal punishment to impose ‘cultural genocide.’ Many children sought to escape, and some perished in these schools, as they were chronically underfunded and with little oversight, leading to numerous reports of physical, emotional, mental, and even spiritual abuses. To honor the stories of the survivors is to believe in the motto “Every Child Matters,” where every individual Indigenous child that has suffered from government-mandated schooling is respected.
Recently, many stories of the survivors are leading to the grim discoveries of unmarked and unidentified student graves on the grounds of former ‘Indian Residential Schools.’ Current efforts have uncovered over 6,000 graves, with hundreds of former schools yet to be searched. Recently in June, Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland announced a Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative, a comprehensive review of the troubled legacy of federal boarding school policies. Additionally, this past May, a report identified 408 boarding schools and at least 53 burial sites that operated across the mainland United States, Alaska, and Hawaii over a 150-year period. It is expected that many more graves and grim findings will be made public in the coming investigations.
If you wish to honor and respect the Indigenous children that had suffered from the ‘Indian Residential Schools,’ please take the time to learn the stories of survivors and explore resources that chronicle this dark chapter in North American history of education. Also, you can show support on September 30th by wearing an orange shirt or orange shirt pin.
Join us on September 30th outside the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Lounge in the Student Center between 9 am and 2 pm to receive a free Orange shirt while supplies last. The graphic was designed by Nikki Sunday-Jocko of Nikkarie Beadwork (https://www.nikkariebeadwork.com/about-me-picture) of the Mohawk Nation of Akwesasne.
Orange Shirt Day Website – https://www.orangeshirtday.org/