CAMPBELL RIVER, B.C. – Students, parents, and Indigenous elders gathered at Spirit Square earlier today to celebrate Orange Shirt Day, a day after schools from the Comox Valley did.

Orange Shirt Day comes from founder Phyllis Webstad’s personal story: she had just turned six years old when she was taken to St. Joseph’s Residential School in Williams Lake. Upon arrival, Webstad was stripped, and the orange shirt her grandmother bought for her was taken away. Webstad said that the colour orange had always reminded her of feeling worthless.

Students and teachers from various schools, as well as local residents, showed up at Spirit Square in orange shirts. The walk started with speeches and traditional songs, and ended at the Kwanwatsi Bighouse with discussions about residential schools, and anti-racism and anti-bullying policies for the school year.

Audrey Wilson, the executive director at Laichwiltach Family Society, says Orange Shirt Day is important so younger generations will remember to honour those who survived harsh treatment in residential schools, and to commemorate those who never made it home. The most important thing, she said, is for people to be open to listening to survivors.

“(Pay attention to) Especially around the Recommendations that came out and I know, health and the school districts are looking at those recommendations and how they are incorporating in their every day work. Especially for the young generation now. Because some of us won’t be here by the time maybe all those things come to fruition,” she said.

2018 marks the second year the Councils of the Aboriginal Success by 6 and Community Success by 6 organized the Walk for Reconciliation – Every Child Matters.

Phyllis Webstad will give a presentation on October 1st at the K’omoks Big House from 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM.