Students in schools across the Qualicum School District will recognize the meaning and importance of Orange Shirt Day this week.
The events are meant to commemorate the residential school experience, honour the healing journey of the survivors and commit to the process of reconciliation.
Students and staff at Kwalikum Secondary School (KSS) are wearing orange every day this week. Students also learned about Truth and Reconciliation and the Calls to Action.
KSS will raise money for the Tsow Tun Le Lum Society, to support its programs for former students of residential schools, by selling bannock at lunch.
At Ballenas Secondary School, the focus this year is on listening to stories and taking action, guided by a display with 30 suggestions.
The school is also working with the digitized version of the Witness Blanket, allowing students to learn through the voices of residential school survivors, accompanied by hundreds of items reclaimed from residential schools, churches, government buildings and traditional and cultural structures from across Canada.
Students will also be able to share, through a school display, what they learned and one action they will take in support of reconciliation.
Oceanside Elementary School will acknowledge Orange Shirt Day and the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation by doing daily classrooms activities through stories, song and art.
It will also hold a school-wide Keystone lesson about Orange Shirt Day and what can be done better as a school in supporting Indigenous students, families and communities.
At Bowser Elementary School, teachers will augment their ongoing educational activities through ideas such as Art Writings Bulletin Board displays.
Nanoose Bay Elementary students will participate in numerous activities to commemorate and learn about Orange Shirt Day. One classroom activity will see students make felt orange hearts, with the goal of making 215, to be displayed later.
Students will also be encouraged to wear orange to an assembly on Sept. 29, where they will learn about the day’s meaning and history and observe a minute of silence.
Qualicum Beach Elementary School also has an assembly planned for Sept. 29 with students wearing orange shirts. Several art projects are also set for the week.
PASS-Woodwinds Alternate School students will do some artwork and the school’s mural will be officially introduced. Students will watch and discuss a video about truth and reconciliation, as well as take a guided nature walk. Students will be encouraged to wear orange.
Collaborative Education Alternative Program (CEAP) elementary students will work with the Indigenous Liaison worker on Orange Shirt Day-related lessons all week. CEAP at the senior level students will support KSS activities.
Orange Shirt Day is a legacy of the St. Joseph Mission Residential School (1891-1981) Commemoration Project and Reunion events that took place in Williams Lake, B.C. in May 2013. This project was the vision of Esketemc (Alkali Lake) Chief Fred Robbins, who is a former student.
The date was chosen because it is the time of year in which children were taken from their homes to residential schools. It is an opportunity for First Nations, local governments, schools and communities to come together in the spirit of reconciliation and hope for future generations.
— NEWS Staff, submitted