Students and staff of the Kamsack Comprehensive Institute joined students across Canada on Friday (September 30) observing the day as Orange Shirt Day.
At an assembly at the KCI on September 26, students in the Grade 7B class, one at a time, spoke to the assembled student body, telling them about the significance of the day.
“The Student Leadership Council (SLC which has replaced the SRC at the school) is asking all students and staff to wear orange shirts on Friday as people across Canada are donning orange to show our commitment to reconciliation of the First Nations residential school experience,” one of the students said.
“The residential school experience is a part of Canadian history and affects many to this day,” a student said. “First Nations children were removed from families to attend schools hundreds of miles from their homes.
“First Nations children were not allowed to speak their native languages, wear cultural clothes or see family or their own homes for months. Culture was totally removed. Can you imagine what that would do to you?
“Some First Nations children were subject to horrible abuses in residential schools. Some children never returned home. Some died.
“Residential schools were a part of the past but very much a part of the present too.
“Wear orange on Friday as awareness that there is much healing to be done and in recognition of the fact that we can move together towards a stronger Canada with reconciliation. Our whole country needs to heal.
“Wear orange on Friday to show your support in showing that every child matters.
“On Friday, September 30, Canadians are being asked to wear orange T-shirts for the fourth annual Orange Shirt Day. Please join us.
“Together we are better; everyone.”
Orange Shirt Day is a legacy of the St. Joseph Mission (SJM) residential school commemoration event held in Williams Lake, BC, in the spring of 2013, said information on the Orange Shirt Day website. “It grew out of Phyllis’s story of having her shiny new orange shirt taken away on her first day of school at the Mission, and it has become an opportunity to keep the discussion on all aspects of residential schools happening annually.
“The date was chosen because it is the time of year in which children were taken from their homes to residential schools, and because it is an opportunity to set the stage for anti-racism and anti-bullying policies for the coming school year,” the information said. “It also gives teachers time to plan events that will include children, as we want to ensure that we are passing the story and learning on to the next generations.
“Orange Shirt Day is also an opportunity for First Nations, local governments, schools and communities to come together in the spirit of reconciliation and hope for generations of children to come.”
A similar demonstration with students and staff wearing orange clothing was planned at Keeseekoose Chiefs Education Centre at noon on Friday.
© 2016 Kamsack Times