A Saskatoon business is apologizing and will be providing its employees with sensitivity training after remarks made by its owner and his daughter criticizing Orange Shirt Day online were deemed insensitive and offensive.
Andi Early, whose father Spencer Early is president of Early’s Farm and Garden in Saskatoon, criticized Orange Shirt Day in a Facebook post earlier this week. In the post, Early wrote about “Identity politics” entering into the classrooms of young children, citing Orange Shirt Day as an example.
“Children should not be political instruments and we completely disagree that orange shirt day has unanimously imposed on everyone,” she said in the post, which included a picture of an orange shirt, with the phrase “not for kids” written on top. “The more we focus on the historical inequalities the more it will foster current inequalities. We don’t participate.”
Orange Shirt Day is an annual event designed to honour residential school survivors and their families, and to raise awareness about the the injustices and mistreatment Indigenous people suffered while they attended.
The day itself was inspired by the story of Phyllis (Jack) Webstad, who had a new orange shirt taken from her by residential school staff as a six-year-old girl, according to the Orange Shirt Day website.
Andi does not hold any position at Early’s Farm and Garden. However, in a response to the post, Spencer wrote, “What about the Jews, Irish, Ukrainian, Japanese, Chinese…etc,etc. Don’t ‘cherry pick’ the list. Discuss it all collectively as the human experience or not at all.”
Reaction was swift, with hundreds of comments expressing frustration and anger, and many people saying they’ll take their business elsewhere.
The business apologized for the post following the outcry, then later issued a second apology from Spencer Early from its Facebook page.
In an interview Wednesday afternoon,