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City marking Orange Shirt Day Sept. 30

Community members are encouraged to wear orange on Wednesday in honour of Orange Shirt Day.

Orange Shirt Day is observed on Sept. 30 and was inspired by Phyllis Webstad’s story. Webstad was six years old when she arrived at a residential school and had her orange shirt taken away. She never wore that shirt again.

The City of Timmins proclaimed Wednesday, Sept. 30 as Orange Shirt Day.

Representatives from the Timmins Native Friendship Centre (TNFC), Mayor George Pirie and Coun. Kristin Murray were on hand outside of the city hall this morning for the official proclamation.

“The importance is to bring awareness to broader Canada about residential schools. It’s really about honouring those who’ve attended residential schools, those who’ve been impacted and those who never made it home,” Murray said.

Pirie said people have to understand what people went through, and to remember it.

“That’s a starting point: understanding our history in entirety, not only what we want to learn and what we’ve been taught. So it’s critical to understand for our community and Canada how they’re impacted by Indigenous communities because of that experience,” he said.

In the past, TNFC would host annual walks around the downtown and have residential school survivors tell their story. Although the walk has been cancelled this year due to COVID-19, the centre is encouraging people to wear orange on Wednesday and do their own walk.

“Orange Shirt Day is meant as a symbol to bring people together and bring awareness to the residential school systems and implications that it had on our people,” said Caitlyn Kaltwasser, the centre’s youth employment counsellor. “It’s a day to remind us of survivors and those children who never made it back.”

Shirts can be picked up for free at the centre in Kirby Street.

Dariya Baiguzhiyeva, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter,

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