Screen printing class is busy at Vernon Secondary School, as the students prepare for Orange Shirt Day. (Photo Submitted)

Every child matters, everyday

Orange Shirt Day is a reminder to all of us to adopt inclusion into our lives year-round

Orange is an odd colour. Not usually the top of the list when asked, ‘what’s your favourite colour?’

But it is bright, bold and gets your attention.

That’s the point of it in schools across the province, and right here in the North Okanagan, today.

“We recognize Orange Shirt Day at schools every year,” said Kelly Smith, Vernon school district board chairperson, at Wednesday’s meeting. “It’s a very important day.”

Officially, Orange Shirt Day is Saturday, but schools are marking the occasion today.

Being only the fifth annual Orange Shirt Day, there are still many who know not what this day represents. And even many of the kids showing up to school today in this unpopular colour will have no idea why, except that they have been asked to.

But for those like Phyllis Webstad, the colour speaks loudly to the fact that every child matters.

Webstad started Orange Shirt Day as a vehicle for change, stemming from an unfortunate experience in school.

She recalls how she was sent to the St. Joseph Mission residential school near Williams Lake in 1973 as a six year old.

On her first day of school, Webstad was stripped of the brand new orange shirt her grandmother had bought for her.

“Nobody cared that I had feelings or that I was upset,” Webstad said. “It was like I didn’t matter and I think that’s what orange meant to me.”

While we hope most of society has outgrown the unjust treatment that took place in residential schools, today serves as a reminder to keep our dark history in the past.

But don’t be scared to keep Orange Shirt Day shining long past today. It’s a good reminder to continue ensuring every child matters, every day.


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