By Latoya Powell
Ryerson University held its second annual Orange Shirt Day on Sunday.
The event is to commemorate those impacted by the residential school system. Andrew Reuben, a residential school warrior, spoke at the Orange Shirt Day event to share some stories that were passed on to him by his grandfather and to share his experiences.
“We’ll accept everything that (has) happened to be true and we are given now the authority to begin, and live our lives, starting today,” said Reuben at the second annual Ryerson Orange Shirt Day.
Reuben said while he was at a residential school “the number one thing that kept me sane was knowing my language. It gave me back my identity.”
RU Orange Shirt day is packed with many different activities such as unveiling artwork from Indigenous artist Nyle Johnston, to a Roots of Ryerson Indigenous history tour.
But for Aboriginal student services’ event coordinator Brian Norton, he said that his highlight will be seeing community involvement. “One of the highlights would be seeing that there are more individuals and allies that want to be involved,” he said.
Riley Kucheran, the Aboriginal Graduate student advisors, said that he looks forward to any Indigenous event because of the community that surrounds it.
“The institution is so big that we [Indigenous peoples] often time don’t see each other because we are all in different places,” he said. “Anytime there is an event it’s just a nice opportunity to see everyone.”
Orange Shirt Day started in 2013 in Williams Lake, B.C. It is based on the story of Phyllis Webstad, a woman who was stripped from her brand new orange shirt that her grandmother gave to her on her first day at St. Joseph Mission residential school. It has since become an annual event celebrated on Sept. 30.
Aboriginal Student Services organized this event with many student services’ office. This year RU Orange Shirt day was a partnership among the Student Affairs Office, Office of Sexual Violence Support and Education, The Learning and Teaching Office, The School of Social Work and the Office of the Vice President Equity and Community Inclusion.
The Aboriginal Student Services Office is looking forward to making Orange Shirt Day better every year with more partnerships across the campus, according to Norton.