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Silton embraces Orange Shirt Day

Youth, Commemoration of History
Treaty 4

With Orange Shirt Day in September, the Recreation Board for the Village of Silton wanted to start a conversation and engage their community. Aileen Martin, Community Consultant with the Prairie Central District for Sport Culture and Recreation shared their story with the Office of the Treaty Commissioner.

We decided to host three different activities with the hopes to reach a wider public and create dialogue between families and groups of all ages. We recognize that racism is present in our area and thought this may be a way to broch the subject with some soft activities where people could dip their toes into the conversations around Residential Schools and their long-term generation effects.

The Orange Shirt Beading Project was held at the Silton Community Hall with Vanessa Worm, an Artist born on the Kawacatoose First Nation, leading the beading session. Eighteen participants from about 5 different surrounding communities came to the event that started with a short history lesson including Phyllis Webstad’s Orange Shirt Story, how the annual day came to fruition, and why it is important that we all learn and take part. Participants learned a few beading skills and created small Orange Shirt lapel pins.  

We got positive feedback from many of the participants, but this stood out: “I think it is important to learn and discuss uncomfortable and disturbing topics because we as a society today find it hard to talk about. Imagine what it was like to endure years of Residential School and the lasting effects on people’s families. Now that would be hard.”

The Orange Shirt Print Making take home activity kit worked with Bulyea School to engage youth in Orange Shirt Day. Artsy Fartsy Kids Club worked with us to create the kits that included orange shirts for all students, including those distance learning and being home schooled, with instructions on how they could learn a new print making technique on the shirts with simple supplies. Students were asked to research Indigenous designs and think about the meanings behind the images before they put them on their shirts. Teachers connected to thank us for the project. They said several of the Indigenous and Métis students spoke about how they were happy that their friends were standing together with them.

The final project was the Silton Orange Shirt Story Walk. We deconstructed Phyllis Webstad’s Orange Shirt Story book, laminated the pages, and posted them creating a walk for people around the park. The could read the individual pages while connecting outside. The story walk was up for about 2 weeks. We chose Phyllis book to re-iterate the Orange Shirt Story, and share her memories and time at Residential School. It was another step to ease people into the conversation.

We reached about 80 to 100 people in the communities around Silton with our different activities. The Silton Rec Board wants to continue the conversation and ensure it was not a one-off activity. I feel that we all have a lot to learn and by simple acts and opening doors to opportunities and conversations maybe we can all learn to live together as better neighbours.

These events were supported by a community engagement grant from the Prairie Central District for Sport, Culture and Recreation and Saskatchewan Lotteries. 

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