School District No. 8 turned orange this week because students and staff marked the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, and Orange Shirt Day, an Indigenous-led movement to honor residential school Survivors and their families and communities across Canada on Friday..
“There is such awesome participation in Orange Shirt Day events in schools across our district to honor our Indigenous families, communities, ancestors and their experiences,” says district principal of aboriginal education Gail Higginbottom. “It is a celebration and honoring of Indigenous peoples who are such a source of inspiration, creativity and life force for all children and adults.
“This year marks one of the highest levels of participation in Orange Shirt Day among our students and staff to honor the lost children and Survivors of residential schools, their families, and the resiliency of Indigenous people and communities,” says superintendent Trish Smillie.
“Reconciliation is about changing our thinking, decision making, systems and structures, and creating a new way of being and working together. It is the good work we will all do together.”
All students at Salmo Elementary sang O Canada together in Cree. Middle school students at J.V.Humphries Elementary-Secondary in Kaslo read and creaed art related to Phyllis Webstad’s Orange Shirt Day origin story about having her orange shirt taken away at residential school in Williams Lake.
Students in the Slocan Family of Schools tied feathers in trees to mark their respect for residential school survivors and are participating in a reconciliation walk and drumming circle.
The Nelson Family of Schools assembled indoors and outdoors to sing, share thoughts written on orange hearts and participate in Children’s Heartbeat Parade starting at Trafalgar Middle School to downtown and sponsored by the Métis Nation B.C. and the Capitol Theater.
“We hold and participate in these events every year to drive home the most important point of Orange Shirt Day – that every child matters,” said superintendent Smillie.