Ha7lh skwayel Whistler Community,
Today we gathered in the school gym, dressed in orange, to recognize and honour our Residential School Survivors. Today is one small act towards our united community in building reconciliation. Residential schools are a part of our Canadian history that requires a humanistic understanding that runs deeper than seeing it as a fact on a time line, or a bump in our past. It requires us to develop a level of understanding that will enable us to see this act for what it was, so that we can start to move forward with understanding equality and social justice. It is about honouring the voices and stories of the past.
“Reconciliation will be about ensuring everything we do today will be aimed at a high standard to restore the balance of the relationship between aboriginal and non-aboriginal peoples”.
Orange Shirt Day is a legacy of the St. Joseph Mission (SJM) residential school commemoration event held in Williams Lake in 2013. It grew out of one survivor’s account 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. It is also an opportunity to set the stage for the coming school year as we look to implement new curriculum material about residential schools and reconciliation. 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.
I have added a link to a short news clip regarding the foundation of Orange shirt Day. Please watch this video and talk with your children about what they experienced today. Today is about honouring and remembering the stories of the past. Every child matters, and every voice needs to be heard.