We Are All Treaty People

Orange Shirt Day events in Regina schools

  • Published - 30/09/2016
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  • Posted By - OTC
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For the Regina Public School Division, this year’s Orange Shirt Day is a culmination of a year of activities aimed at filling knowledge gaps.

This is the third year the division has held Orange Shirt Day, and this year nearly every school is involved, said Sarah Longman, supervisor of aboriginal education for Regina Public Schools.

In previous years, Longman said she found many people weren’t aware of Orange Shirt Day and its significance as far as reconciliation and remembering and honouring those who went to residential schools. After hearing Senator Murray Sinclair talk about filling knowledge gaps, Longman said it started them moving towards providing learning opportunities.

Over the past year educators have been reading and Tweeting the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report, Longman said. They also started using blanket exercises, where participants take on the roles of Indigenous peoples in Canada. It started with a group of volunteers on one weekend and through the following months everyone in the division office has taken it, as well as school administrators, resources officers and social workers, Longman said.

Starting in October, high school students will learn the blanket exercise and move to sharing it with their feeder elementary schools.

This work has made a good space for Orange Shirt Day, Sept. 30. During the day, kids are wearing orange, decorating orange shirts and some of the classrooms have residential school survivors speaking.

“It’s going to be a day of tears and it’s going to be a day of healing,” Longman said.

She shared a story from last year’s event.

“We had a residential school survivor go in and speak to a predominantly non-Indigenous group of Kindergarten students. She was sharing the stories of when she was a little girl around the same age as them,” Longman said.

The survivor said that she didn’t have anybody who was “’there to tuck her in at night, she didn’t have anyone on her birthday bringing cake to her or any presents, she didn’t have anyone cuddle her or comfort her when she felt scared and she certainly didn’t have anyone tell her she was beautiful,’” said Longman.

“Of course our kindergarten students all understood this … and one of our little girls with great big, blue eyes and blonde hair walked up the survivor … and gently, very gently tucked her hands on her face and looked the survivor in the eye and said, ‘I think you are beautiful.’”

 

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