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Honouring residential school survivors

SAIT staff and faculty gather virtually to show their support ahead of Orange Shirt Day.

SAIT recognizes Orange Shirt Day

On Wednesday, Sept. 30, people across the country will wear orange to remember and honour an estimated 150,000 First Nations, Inuit and Métis children who attended residential schools in Canada.

SAIT recognizes Orange Shirt Day annually in the spirit of reconciliation and as a reminder that every child matters.

The story behind the colour

Phyllis Webstad is a residential school survivor. In 1973, a six-year-old Webstad eagerly stepped through the doors of the Mission residential school for the first time, dressed in a special orange shirt her grandmother had purchased.

Immediately, school officials stripped her of her clothes, and Webstad felt worthless. The feeling would follow her for many years to come.

Today, the orange shirt is an emblem of the abuse suffered by children in residential schools.

In 2019, Webstad attended Orange Shirt Day at SAIT to share her journey of pain and healing, discuss opportunities for reconciliation and converse with fellow survivors.

One of those survivors was SAIT alumnus Victor Buffalo, who used his own experience in residential school to forge a future he could be proud of.

2017 Distinguished Alumnus Victor Buffalo and Phyllis Webstad in attendance at Orange Shirt Day at SAIT in 2019.

2017 Distinguished Alumnus Victor Buffalo and Phyllis Webstad in attendance at Orange Shirt Day at SAIT in 2019.

Celebrating resilience

Buffalo first set foot in the Ermineskin Indian Residential School in 1948. He was seven. Withheld from his culture for the next 14 years, Buffalo sought escape in the pages of books and set his sights on finishing his education.

He eventually attended SAIT, graduating from the Industrial Chemical Technology program in 1964. Over the course of his career he would develop educational and economic initiatives benefitting his people and help expand educational opportunities for Indigenous youth. He has received the Order of Canada, was inducted into the Alberta Business Hall of Fame and was named  SAIT’s 2017 Distinguished Alumnus.

๐Ÿ“– Read Victor Buffalo’s story

How to participate in Orange Shirt Day

๐Ÿงก Wear orange to honour residential school survivors, their families and communities on Wednesday, Sept. 30.

๐Ÿ’ก Register to join more than 6,000 educators and 300,000 Canadian youth at the Every Child Matters: Reconciliation Through Education online event organized by the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation.

๐Ÿ“ท Take photos showcasing your orange shirt and share on social media using #EveryChildMatters, #OrangeShirtDay, #OSD and #hereatSAIT.


To learn more about SAIT’s commitment to Indigenous students, see the Indigenous Learner Success Strategy.

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