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Vet students recognize Orange Shirt Day

Professional Development, Education, Youth

The Western College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan is recognizing Orange Shirt Day for the week leading up to Sept. 30.

The college’s Indigenous Student Circle designed orange shirts for the students, staff and faculty to wear throughout the events.

Every aspect of the shirt has meaning that comes from the Seven Sacred Teachings. The Seven Sacred Teachings have details that may vary from tribe to tribe, but the basic principles are the same: to respect mother earth and all of its creatures and other creations. Each teaching is represented by an animal, which reminds us of our connection to nature.

The students created poster to accompany the t-shirt explaining what they chose and why:
Buffalo: the buffalo represents RESPECT. No animal was more important to the existence of Indigenous families than the buffalo. By giving its life, the buffalo showed its deep respect for the people

  • A white buffalo is at the centre of the design. It was chosen because of its sacredness and powerful symbolism. Legends state that the White Buffalo Calf Woman brought First Nations people plenty of buffalo from which to survive and teachings about ceremony. When she left the people, she promised to return, which is why the birth of white buffaloes continue to be significant to Indigenous people. The birth of a white buffalo signifies unity and harmony among all nations; reconciliation.

Eagle: the eagle embodies LOVE as it flies highest and closest to the Creator. Everyone needs and seeks love. Children are to be loved and cherished, for children are gifts from the Creator

  • We chose to use four eagle feathers in a circle to represent the four directions of the Medicine Wheel (north, east, south, west). Typically, each direction is represented by a distinctive colour and can also represent stages of life, sacred medicines, seasons of the year, aspects of life or elements of nature.

Turtle: The turtle symbolizes TRUTH. It is said that when the Creator made man and gave him the Seven Sacred Teachings, grandmother turtle was present to ensure that they were never lost or forgotten.

All the students will be wearing their shirts when Residential School Survivor, Eugene Arcand, speaks at the college on Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2017.

In their words: Orange Shirt Day is a legacy of the St. Joseph Mission residential school commemoration event held in Williams Lake, B.C., in the spring of 2013. It grew from Phyllis (Jack) Wedstad’s story of having her new orange shirt taken away on her first day of school at the Mission. It is an opportunity to continue the discussion on all aspects of residential schools. Sept. 30 was chosen as Orange Shirt Day because it is during the time of year when Indigenous children were taken from their homes to residential schools, and because it is an opportunity to set the stage for anti-racism and anti-bullying policies for the upcoming school year.

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