Monday, September 30, 2019

Remembrance and Reconciliation today, as local schools observe Orange Shirt Day

A remembrance of the past and another step towards reconciliation will be the themes for schools across British Columbia and Canada today, with Prince Rupert/Port Edward among the communities to observe Orange Shirt Day.

The Seventh commemoration of awareness of the harm that was done in the past by the Residential School program has been a public event at schools through much of this decade, growing as a commemoration that has spread far beyond the school building walls.

The observance of Orange Shirt Day was created by Indigenous leaders in the Williams Lake area  and was spurred on through the history of Phyllis Webstead, a residential school survivor of St. Joseph Mission Residential School in Williams Lake who told her story of the day that School officials took away her Orange shirt. leaving her to feel as though she no longer mattered.

Those memories have now grown to serve as a way to look back at how the Residential School program created pain and harm for Indigenous people, as well as to provide a path to  create dialogue and work towards further reconciliation.

They also have created awareness towards the campaign to ensure that "Every child matters" a call that is now common across the nation.

The British Columbia government released a statement from Scott Fraser today, the Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation reflecting on the events that are the focus for the events that take place across the province today.

"On Sept. 30, we join together to raise awareness of the terrible effects of the residential school system and the resulting intergenerational trauma. For more than 100 years, children were taken from their parents, subjected to abuse and made to feel ashamed of their culture.

By participating in Orange Shirt Day each year, we act on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action to redress the colonial legacy of residential schools. 

More than that, to honour survivors we must all commit to a future grounded in meaningful reconciliation – where healing is supported, rights are respected and Indigenous languages and cultures are able to thrive"

Mr. Fraser's full statement can be reviewed here.

Also made available this morning was a video this morning which outlines the significance of the day and its observance across this province.

School District 52 has a number of activities taking place through the day to raise awareness for Orange Shirt Day, including the sale of T-shirts taking place at Charles Hays Secondary this morning.

Orange Shirt Day at CHSS,
from @chsssd52 twitter feed

In addition to the discussion in the schools that will take place today; as part of the Prince Rupert commemoration, a District Walk for Reconciliation has been planned for the city at 11AM

The path of #OrangeShirtDay in Prince Rupert can be followed through the School District 52 twitter feed.

Commemoration is also taking place at the Prince Rupert campus of Coast Mountain College and at the city's Independent School Annunciation.

You can learn more about the history of the observance of Orange Shirt Day here.

For more items of interest from SD52 see our archive page here.

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