My wife and I were sent letters from my children's schools yesterday reminding us to have them wear Orange today in honour of National Truth and Reconciliation Day.
I have a confession to make.
I've spent all my life living in Canada. I grew up here, and I went to school here from Junior Kindergarten until I completed my MBA. And in all that time, I was not ever taught anything in school about Canada's Indigenous people, or about the horrific impact of colonialization in my own backyard. In my social studies classes, I did learn about colonialization... but it was something that happened to other people in other countries, not Canada.
That's a failing of the education system, for certain, and something I'm glad to see that's now starting to be rectified as my children come home more knowledgeable about this dark period of Canadian history than I ever was.
But it's also a failing on my part because school isn't the only place you learn... and I hadn't taken the time to educate myself.
In fact, until today, I wasn't even entirely sure why Orange was the colour chosen to honour our Indigenous People.
Fortunately, we live in the Information Age.
And if you're curious enough to learn something and motivated enough to understand, your answers are just a few clicks away. Otherwise, in most other cases, ignorance is a choice.
So why do we wear Orange?
According to Wikipedia, "The inspiration for Orange Shirt Day came from residential school survivor Phyllis Jack Webstad, who shared her story at a St. Joseph Mission (SJM) Residential School Commemoration Project and Reunion event held in Williams Lake, British Columbia, in the spring of 2013. Phyllis recounted her first day of residential schooling at six years old, when she was stripped of her clothes, including the new orange shirt her grandmother bought her, which was never returned. The orange shirt now symbolizes how the residential school system took away the indigenous identities of its students."
There's a lot more information on that page, and I'm going to spend some time today reading it.
That won't be enough, obviously.
But it's a start.