• Cultural Calendar
Every Child Matters: Honoring Orange Shirt Day 2022 on September 30

Sometimes small things can have powerful resonance—like the favorite orange shirt of a little girl going off to a new school for the first time. 

Proudly worn almost 50 years ago by six-year-old Phyllis Webstad of the Stswecem’c Xgat’tem First Nation (Canoe Creek Indian Band), that orange shirt was her most treasured possession, and she was excited to wear it off to the St. Joseph Mission school. When she arrived, however, all of her clothes (including her treasured orange shirt) were taken away from her, never to be returned, and replaced by an ugly and uncomfortable school uniform. 

It was one moment among those of thousands of others suffered by Indigenous children, but that lost orange shirt has now become a symbol of the annual movement known as Orange Shirt Day, celebrated each year on September 30. 

Also known as the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, Orange Shirt Day is a day of remembrance for the victims and survivors of 160 years of government-run Canadian and American Boarding and Residential schools.  

Designed to forcibly isolate and then strip Indigenous and First Nations children of their culture, language, way of life, and even their names, these U.S. and Canadian government-run Residential and Boarding school systems had a profound, lasting, and devastating impact upon Indigenous, First Nations, and Native American individuals and communities in the United States and Canada.  

There were over 130 residential schools in Canada, open between 1831 and 1997. The United States had over 400 boarding schools between 1869 and the 1970s. The schools were frequently and deliberately located in isolated locations far from the children's homes and families (as well as from any lawful accountability) and the actions of many against Indigenous children were carried out in environments of abuse, neglect, and torture, with the devastating effects of these schools including lifelong trauma and loss of life—with the identities of many of the victims still unknown or unacknowledged. 

Several hundred thousand Indigenous children attended the schools in the United States, along with 150,000 attending schools in Canada and British Columbia. Last year, the remains of 215 children were discovered in an unmarked grave at one former school location. This led to discoveries of hundreds more in Canada and an investigation into former school sites in the United States, as well. 

It's no surprise that the effects of these abuses and losses are still being felt today by those who survived them, as well as by their families and descendants. 

The Orange Shirt Day movement began in Canada in May 2013, with a single memorial, healing, and reconciliation ceremony as First Nations and Indigenous people in Canada gathered to honor victims and survivors of the St. Joseph Mission Residential School in Williams Lake, B.C., Canada. 

At the 2013 St. Joseph Mission Residential School event, residential school survivor Phyllis was interviewed for a short video documentary, and spoke movingly of how, when she was six years old, she had picked out that new, shiny orange shirt to wear for her first day of school, and how it was taken from her upon arrival at the Mission school. Phyllis's simple and poignant story resonated with others, and soon Orange Shirt Day became an annual event with the official tagline, "Every Child Matters," to remind everyone that all people’s cultural experiences are important. The day is now widely observed across much of North America, with Indigenous people and their allies wearing orange on the day to show solidarity, and in an effort to continue to raise awareness about the lasting aftereffects of the Residential and Boarding schools so that those events are never forgotten—or repeated. 

To honor Orange Shirt Day across PSESD, some of our Native students and faculty at many schools will be wearing orange shirts today, and we encourage you to show your solidarity and support when you encounter them. 

Check out the following links to learn more about Orange Shirt Day:  

Orange Shirt Day (Main Website and Mission) 


Residential School Experiences (It’s Our Time Educational Toolkit, from Assembly of First Nations) 




Recognizing our Education Support Professionals

When it comes to education support, teachers are often the first people who come to mind, but education support professionals are just as vital in their dedication support, and their work too often goes unacknowledged. To salute these professionals, Education Support Professionals Day takes place on November 15 and gives us all at PSESD the chance to honor all of the incredible education support professionals who help and inspire our children each day.

Read More about Recognizing our Education Support Professionals
Celebrating October as National LGBTQ+ History Month—and National Coming Out Day on October 11!

October is LGBTQ+ History Month! Created in 1994, by a Missouri high school history teacher named Rodney Wilson who believed that a month should explore and celebrate LGBTQ+ history, LGBTQ+ History Month honors the history and courageous achievements across the years of LGBTQ+ people, including a spotlight on National Coming Out Day on October 11. Join us in celebrating our LGBTQ+ staff, students, and community members on this important day, and all month long!

Read More about Celebrating October as National LGBTQ+ History Month—and National Coming Out Day on October 11!
National School Lunch Week (October 9-13)

The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) serves nearly 30 million children every school day, providing the essential basic nutrition that contributes to student success and teacher support, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and fat-free or lowfat milk with every school lunch. President John F. Kennedy created National School Lunch Week (NSLW) in 1962 to promote the importance of a healthy school lunch in a child’s life, as well as the impact a simple school lunch can have both inside and outside the classroom, and this year, National School Lunch Week takes place from October 9-13, 2023.

Read More about National School Lunch Week (October 9-13)
Honoring and Commemorating Orange Shirt Day on September 30

September 30 is Orange Shirt Day—a day of remembrance honoring the hundreds of thousands of children who attended Canadian residence schools and United States Indigenous Boarding Schools, enduring abuse, neglect, disease, and worse. These schools were deliberately created to strip First Nations children of their culture,  language, and way of life, and their effects are still being felt today by those who survived, as well as their families.

Read More about Honoring and Commemorating Orange Shirt Day on September 30
September is Suicide Awareness Month

September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, offering an ideal opportunity to speak out and raise awareness—an awareness that is urgently required, with suicide the tenth leading cause of death among adults in the U.S.—and the second leading cause of death among children and young people aged 10-24. Unfortunately, these rates are increasing, and those who are young, LGBTQ, or BIPOC are especially vulnerable. LGBTQ youth are four times more likely to attempt suicide, while transgender adults, meanwhile, are almost 12 times more likely than the general population to attempt suicide.

Read More about September is Suicide Awareness Month