People gather to mark Orange Shirt Day at Surrey City Hall on Thursday (Sept. 26). Submitted photo

A day for orange shirts at Surrey City Hall to ‘remember the injustices of the past’

Orange Shirt Day is designed to promote awareness about Indian residential school system in Canada

People wearing orange T-shirts filled Surrey City Hall on Thursday (Sept. 26) to honour Indigenous residential school survivors and their families.

A lunchtime ceremony marked Orange Shirt Day, designed to promote awareness about the Indian residential school system in Canada.

Orange Shirt Day is held annually on Sept. 30 to remember the story of Phyllis Jack Webstad, a residential school survivor who, as a girl, had her new orange shirt taken from her on the first day of school and never returned.

Thursday’s event at city hall was organized by the City of Surrey and Surrey Urban Indigenous Leadership Committee (SUILC). Drummers from SFU Surrey and staff from the BC Ministry of Children and Family Development also attended.

• RELATED STORY: ‘Every Child Matters’: Orange Shirt Day spreads awareness across B.C.

Surrey is home to more than 13,000 Indigenous people – the largest urban Indigenous population in B.C., according to city statistics.

“The City of Surrey partners with the SUILC to create a city in which Indigenous contributions are valued, where reconciliation is a priority, and where every Indigenous person has the opportunity to achieve their full potential,” says a city hall release.

In 2016, Surrey city council endorsed SUILC’s All Our Relations: Surrey Urban Aboriginal Social Innovation Strategy. Details are posted to surrey.ca/indigenous.

“Orange Shirt Day is a time to acknowledge and remember the injustices of the past, and it is also a day to come together in a spirit of reconciliation,” Mayor Doug McCallum said in the city’s release. “We are dedicated to working with Aboriginal governments, local governments, schools and communities to continue our work in strengthening the Aboriginal community.”

• RELATED STORY: Orange Shirt Day inspires Sept. 30 Truth and Reconciliation national holiday.



tom.zillich@surreynowleader.com

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