Orange Shirt Day | Photo by Brett Hull | The Wright State Guardian
On Oct. 5, students had the opportunity to buy an orange paper shirt from Wright State University’s (WSU) Association of Native American Students (ANAS). The funds from purchases raised money for the Native American Student Scholarship fund.
Orange Shirt Day’s Canadian origins
According to Orange Shirt Day’s website, it was established in Canada on Sept. 30, 2013, as “an opportunity to create meaningful discussion about the effects of Residential Schools and the legacy they have left behind.”
Orange Shirt Day reminds people about the Canadian Native American and Indigenous children forced to attend boarding schools that forcibly stripped away their heritage to assimilate to Western culture.
“It very much got to a point where many kids were killed over the summer. A lot of bodies have been uncovered at these former residential schools, as well as basically an entire loss of culture and language,” Ben Osborne, ANAS treasurer, said.
The day’s name comes from Phyllis Webstand, the owner of the original orange shirt. In her story on the website, she talks about her grandmother buying her a new outfit for school, including an orange shirt.
When she arrived, she was stripped and her clothes were taken. Despite her tears and confusion, her clothes were never given back.
“The color orange has always reminded me of that and how my feelings didn’t matter, how no one cared and how I felt like I was worth nothing,” Webstand said in her story. “All of us little children were crying and no one cared.”
Wright State fundraiser
Webstand’s story is one of many, and ANAS hopes to spread more awareness and education about stories like hers through events like the Orange Shirt Day fundraiser.
“I think it’s important to be aware of that because the cultures are still here. Even though they’re irreversibly changed and altered, they’re still here. These people had children and cousins and this affects people that still live today.”Ryan Diaz, ANAS Vice President
Students could buy an orange paper shirt for $1, and with each shirt purchased they were entered into a raffle. The winner will receive an Every Child Matters orange shirt.
ANAS raised over $300, which will go to WSU’s Native American Student Scholarship fund, which supports Native American students at WSU.
WSU Association of Native American Students
In the future, ANAS plans to host more events to educate and spread awareness, especially on topics like missing and murdered indigenous women.
“We’re going to be doing several [events] highlighting this problem and we’ll have some round tables talking about this,” ANAS President, Cameron Hendrix, said.
Students interested in joining ANAS can contact Cameron Hendrix at firstname.lastname@example.org.