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Wear Orange and Tune In
You’re invited to wear orange and tune in to the Xe xe Smun eem-Victoria Orange Shirt Day: Every Child Matters virtual ceremony (pronounced shat shat smun am) on Wednesday, September 30 at noon on the City’s Facebook page. (The video will be available to view here after its broadcast.)
Orange Shirt Day is a grassroots event that encourages Canadians to learn about and acknowledge the harm that the residential school system had on generations of Indigenous families and their communities.
Residential school survivor Eddy Charlie and friend Kristin Spray have organized a virtual ceremony this year due to COVID-19. For the past three years, the Xe xe Smun eem-Victoria Orange Shirt Day: Every Child Matters ceremony has provided an opportunity for the community to come together in Centennial Square.
Xe xe Smun eem means “Sacred Children” in the Cowichan or Quw utsun language. The official language of the Quw utsun peoples is Hul Qumi unum.
Filmed in advance, the virtual ceremony is emceed by Victoria Lea Pruden, an Âpihtawkosisân/Michif knowledge keeper and healing and cultural safety advocate from the Métis Nation. The ceremony includes a land acknowledgement, followed by the raising of the Victoria Orange Shirt Day flag and a moment of silence accompanied by 15 drum beats to honour those who did not survive residential schools. Visual artist and performer Nicole Mandryk sings the traditional Anishinaabe healing Bear Song.
Guest speakers include Tsartlip Elders May Sam and Skip Sam who share their personal experiences with residential schools and reconciliation. Sadly, Elder Skip Sam passed away shortly after filming.
Other special guests include Mayor Lisa Helps, Phyllis Webstad, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Aboriginal Health Physician Advisor Dr. Danièle Behn Smith, and Eddy Charlie and Kristin Spray who speak to the importance of raising awareness about residential schools to honour the more than 4,000 children who died, and the sacrifices that were made by 150,000 residential school survivors and their families across Canada.
The Orange Shirt Day: Every Child Matters initiative grew out of Phyllis Webstad’s account during a commemoration in Williams Lake, BC in 2013, of having her shiny new orange shirt taken away on her first day of St. Joseph Mission residential school. Since then, Orange Shirt Day has become an opportunity to keep the discussion happening about all aspects of residential schools.
Orange Shirt Day is an opportunity for Indigenous Peoples, local governments, schools and communities to come together in the spirit of reconciliation and hope for generations of children to come. September 30 was chosen because it is the time of year in which children were taken from their homes to residential schools.
Where to Find an Orange T-Shirt
Xe xe Smun eem-Victoria Orange Shirt Day T-shirts designed by artist Bear Horne, Every Child Matters orange blankets, and books about Orange Shirt Day by Phyllis Webstad, Carey Newman and Kirstie Hudson, are available online and at a range of local venues. For more information, visit victoriaorangeshirtday.com.
Bear Horne’s design features a bear to help us follow the right path, an eagle to help us have a vision of a bright future, a hummingbird to keep our mind, body and spirit healthy, and a flower to feed the connection of all these elements.
Community Partners and Sponsors
The Xe xe Smun eem-Victoria Orange Shirt Day: Every Child Matters is supported by the City of Victoria, District of Oak Bay, District of Saanich, Camosun College, Phyllis Webstad, Carey Newman, Kirstie Hudson, Medicine Wheel Education, Orca Book Publishers, Big Wheel Burger, Caffe Fantastico, Delhi Restaurant, Discovery Coffee, Fernwood Yoga Den, Moss Street Market and Victory Barber & Brand.