A lesson on the historic shortcomings of Canada is being taught to students at Kootenay schools preceding Orange Shirt Day this week.
Rocky Mountain School District #6 encourages students and their families to wear orange shirts on Sept. 30 to honour residential school survivors.
“As part of our ongoing efforts to improve outcomes for Indigenous Students and to rise to the calls to action of Truth and Reconciliation, schools across Rocky Mountain plan to recognize the impact of residential schools on all Canadian Indigenous People, including our local Indigenous education partners,” said Steve Wyer, assistant superintendent of schools at Rocky Mountain School District #6. “The impact of residential schools is taught in ongoing ways as part of our subject curriculum as well as part of our instruction in the core competency of responsibility. However, on Orange Shirt Day, schools and staff collectively recognize this impact for our students, their families and their communities.”
While David Thompson Secondary School (DTSS) Aboriginal Education Support Workers Monica Fisher and Tisha Tardiff were unavailable for comment before the Pioneer went to press, they recognized the importance of honouring Sept. 30 by wearing orange shirts.
“Aboriginal Support Workers in schools work with their teams of teachers, principals and community Knowledge Keepers to plan such things as assemblies, collective actions, curricular activities, and professional learning about the Orange Shirt and its symbolism,” explained Wyer. “Because Orange Shirt Day evokes strong emotions through the stories of injustice and colonization, it often propels further learning about, interest in, and relationships with members of our Indigenous communities,” said Wyer. “I certainly hope to see our younger generation expressing their commitment to the calls to action through a show of Orange on Sept. 30.”
DTSS principal Glen Sage indicated that students can attend the free online event for the Every Child Matters event at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 30, to honor residential school survivors and their families in the pursuit of encouraging meaningful reconciliation across Canada. However, the logistics of the DTSS plan are still be fleshed out amongst staff and administrators.
“Teachers of all subjects are infusing aboriginal content into all of their classes, and specific to the legacy of residential schools, Grade 9 social studies classes have been engaged in the Project of Heart,” said Sage by e-mail. “With Andrea Dunlop’s efforts, we plan to build a large piece of art, shaped as a sturgeon nose canoe (unique to the First Nations of this region) and place the tiles from the Project of Heart on it.”
To learn more about Project of Heart, please visit http://projectofheart.ca/what-is-project-of-heart/
Wyer encourages the community to visit www.orangeshirtday.org to learn more about the significance of the event.
Breanne Massey, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Columbia Valley Pioneer