2022 Festival

Photo by: Nadya Kwandibens / Artist: Celeste Pedri-Spade & Evan Ducharme Studio

Fashioning Resurgence Panel Series

Orange Shirt Day: Fashion as a Tool for Sovereignty and Healing

Brigantine Room


Phyllis remembers the new outfit for her first day of residential school in 1967.
Phyllis wore an orange shirt from the local store that her grandmother lovingly purchased.
However, when Phyllis arrived at the school, the nuns forcibly removed and replaced the brightly coloured shirt with a homogenous residential school uniform.
Phyllis never saw the orange shirt again. She was six years old.
That memory inspired Orange Shirt Day, which Phyllis Webstad created in 2013 through the St. Joseph Mission Residential School (1891-1981) Commemoration Project and Reunion.
Today, wearing an orange shirt is a prominent symbol that commemorates survivors and victims of the Indian Residential School System in Canada and is an act of healing, sovereignty and reclamation.
This conversation moderated by Shawkay Ottman will explore the dichotomy of clothing as a tool that has the opportunity to drive resilience or perpetuate oppression.
Shawkay Ottman (Anishinaabe) is an MA student at the V&A Royal College of Art in London.
Her research focuses on dress history, examining how identity and society interact within dress, including a recently published article in Fashion Studies titled “Indigenous Dress Theory and Dress in Canadian Residential Schools.”