ONEIDA — Margaret Ellis is wearing an orange shirt today. Orange isn't usually her first color of choice, but today it is.
Her orange represents a movement. It's called "Every Child Matters," and it's about acknowledging the Indigenous lives affected by colonization and boarding schools.
"It's not a bad thing. It doesn't have to be a negative thing. It's just about recognizing those atrocities and being able to move forward in good ways, so that we're on the same page," Ellis said.
According to the National Indigenous Residential School Museum of Canada, children were tortured at these schools. What was originally a promise to families of teaching their children financial and work skills ended up with cases of missing remains and unmarked graves.
"There's kids as young as my daughter, who's three, that were at these schools and who have passed away, and were never given back to their communities," Ellis said.
"My daughter, Ava, made this shirt. It has a hand, and it's grabbing a little hand that's coming out from the ground," Marie Cornelius, Oneida Nation Council Member said. "This is actually remembering those children. This is a symbolism of remembering them and their passing, and they never came home to their families,"
Many members of Oneida Nation today, like Cornelius, have family ties to schools.
"My great grandfather went to the Carlisle boarding school, and after he left there, he never really spoke Oneida anymore," Hattie Braaten, Oneida Nation Museum Specialist, said.
Part of honoring the day included an orange t-shirt drive at the Oneida Nation Museum, a Native language sign reveal and a post on Oneida's Facebook for others to share their own orange shirt photos.
The day focused on education and looking forward.
"I think we’re moving toward a good start right now by creating the awareness, but just making awareness isn’t enough," Braaten said. "It’s more about taking actions."