Aboriginal elders and residential school survivors Bertha Poor (centre left) and Rosena Winnie (centre right) and Red Deer Native Friendship Centre staff took part in National Orange Shirt Day. The day recognizes the children who were affected by the residential school system and commits to the reconciliation process. (Advocate file photo)

Orange Shirt day a chance to teach Red Deer students about Aboriginal, Inuit, Metis culture

Just because Orange Shirt Day falls on a Saturday, doesn’t mean Red Deer schools will pass up an opportunity to educate students about the day’s meaning.

Orange Shirt Day on Sept. 30 is about remembering the residential school experience and the importance of reconciliation.

Both Red Deer Catholic and Red Deer Public schools will take the day as an opportunity to engage students and teach them about residential schools and Aboriginal, Inuit and Métis culture and heritage.

Students at Ecole Camille J. Lerouge School will gather in family groups (where two different grades come together) to participate in First Nations, Inuit and Métis activities; Ecole Secondaire Notre Dame High School will have a smudging ceremony; St. Patrick’s Community School will have the First Nations, Metis and Inuit Support Team come and meet with students and discuss the importance of Orange Shirt Day; and St. Teresa Avila School will learn how to drum with a member of the district’s FNMI support team.

Those schools as well as Holy Family School, Maryview School, St. Elizabeth Seton School. St. Francis of Assisi Middle School, St. Joseph High School, St. Martin de Porres and St. Thomas Aquinas Middle School will encourage students and staff wearing orange.

Schools in the Red Deer Public School District will also participate in the event by encouraging students and staff to wear orange shirts.

Orange Shirt Day started when Phyllis (Jack) Webstad who had her treasured orange shirt taken from her on the her first day at a residential school. Sept. 30 was chosen because that was the day Aboriginal children were rounded up and taken to residential schools.


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