Orange Shirt Day the first of many, organizer hopes

In September, SAIT had its first Orange Shirt Day, organized by Blair Cunningham, a new adviser at the Chinook Lodge.

The slogan for Orange Shirt Day was “Every Child Matters,” Cunningham said in an interview.

Prior to the event, Cunningham said the hope was that the event would bring awareness surrounding the survivors who suffered at residential schools in Canada.

The origins of Orange Shirt Day come from Phyllis Webstad and the shirt she wore, which was taken away when she went to residential school.

“We are encouraging everyone to wear orange,” Cunningham said.

Cunningham used to work at Bow Valley College where he helped hold the event for three years.

He hopes that SAIT will also be receptive to holding it each year, as well.

“It’s an initiative I’m pushing forward at SAIT this year,” Cunningham said.

The day was to include a panel of people who attended residential schools.

The panel featured Florence Kelly, an elder from Ontario, who was to speak of her own time in a residential school.

It has affected several generations because of the trauma. – Blair Cunningham

Afterward, a prayer and a candlelight vigil were planned.

When asked whom the vigil is for, Cunningham said “the survivors and the children that did not make it out of those schools.

“It has affected several generations because of the trauma,” he said.

Cunningham hopes that next year the Orange Shirt Day will happen again as this is a great way to spread awareness of the legacy of residential schools and their effect on indigenous people.

About Thomas Komarniski 3 Articles
As a writing and communications major in the journalism program at SAIT, Thomas Komarniski worked as a reporter for The Press during the 2017-18 academic year.