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Canada Day Could Look More Orange Than Ever Before This Year

This year's Canada Day could look very different — not just because of the COVID-19 pandemic but because some people are swapping red and white for orange.

After the discovery of 215 children's remains at a former residential school in Kamloops, B.C., more and more people are declaring their intention to change the way they spend Canada Day. Some want to cancel it completely while others will be wearing orange instead of red and white.

Orange Shirt Day was started to honour the thousands of Indigenous children who were forcibly taken to residential schools in Canada. Spurred by the story of Phyllis Webstad, whose own orange shirt was taken away from her at one such school, the day is normally celebrated on September 30.

But now some people are declaring their intent on social media to swap the red and white on July 1 for orange instead.

In a statement to Narcity, Joan Sorley, the treasurer of the Orange Shirt Society, said the organization wouldn't offer an opinion as to whether Canadians should celebrate Canada Day in the "usual way" this year.

"Orange Shirt Society exists to raise awareness of the ongoing impacts of the residential schools, to support reconciliation, and to promote the concept of Every Child Matters," Sorley said. "The wearing of orange helps to do that, and it shouldn't be limited to Orange Shirt Day."

"I never wore white and red on Canada Day as to me it's just like any other long weekend. Not something my family ever celebrated." Kyra Schrader (Thistle), who is Métis, said. "I wear orange now because I've decided to accept who I am."

"Honestly it comes to a point where we all must face our past," she added.

Eddy Charlie is a residential school survivor and the co-founder of the Victoria Orange Shirt Day, and he said wearing orange on Canada Day would be a "fitting tribute to the resiliency of residential school survivors."

"There needs to be many voices heard across the lands and that might never happen in our lifetimes, but a beginning of this may happen with conversations like this one," Charlie said.

Schrader said that Canadians should go beyond wearing orange and reach out to Indigenous communities, donate to them, and read about their "diverse and beautiful" cultures.

"Of course an orange shirt is a great symbol," Schrader said, "but this ripple must become a wave of renewal for Canadians of all backgrounds."

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