Students from the Grade 4/5 class at Muheim pose with one of the banners they made to acknowledge Orange Shirt Day and the atrocities of the residential school system. (Liliana Pesce photo)

Orange Shirt Day remembers residential school survivors

Muheim’s Grade 4/5 class made two banners that were presented to local Indigenous organizations

On Sept. 30, students all across Canada took part in Orange Shirt Day.

The event itself has roots near the Bulkley Valley.

Residential school survivor Phyllis Webstad told the story of how she had her orange shirt taken away from her once she reached the residential school she attended while discussing her own experience at a residential school commemoration event held in Williams Lake in 2013.

“I remember going to Robinson’s store and picking out a shiny orange shirt. It had string laced up in front, and was so bright and exciting – just like I felt to be going to school,” Webstad said in a promotional piece of material about the day.

All across School District No. 54 – Bulkley Valley (SD54) students took part in various activities to bring attention to the tragedy of residential schools and the importance of not sweeping them under the rug when discussing Canadian history.

At Muheim Memorial Elementary School (MMES) vice-principal Liliana Pesce said they left the specifics up to individual teachers so that they could present the information about the day to students in an age-appropriate manner.

Pesce, who also teachers a Grade 4/5 class at MMES, said for her class this was creating two banners that her students decorated with messages and quotes about topics such as resiliency, courage, hope and culture.

One banner was presented to the Office of the Wet’suwet’en, while the other was given to the Dze L K’ant Cultural Centre, where it was displayed during an annual general meeting.

Pesce said it was important for her to make connections between the day and the local community for her students.

“We talked about [how] this was something that happened in our past and then we talked about what does reconciliation mean and what does moving forward mean?”

She said much of the day was spent discussing topics such as inclusion and making sure people always felt like they belonged.

“We brainstormed in class about how can we make other people feel that they matter … what can you do to be a good friend? What can you do to make those around you feel like they matter?”

“They wrote those messages on the orange T-shirt and then some of the kids found inspirational quotes … that they felt connected to the day and they put those on the banner as well.”

Another element of getting her class to connect with the community was an annual visit to the Dze L K’ant Friendship Centre.

“One of the ladies who works at the Friendship Center is a residential school survivor, so we just kind of make a point every year to just head over and give her a hug and let her know that it’s still part of our dialogue and we’re still talking to kids about the event and what it symbolizes.”

Pesce said she feels it’s important to acknowledge the past and not sweep Canadian history under the rug

“None of this was a part of my education so I’m learning along with the kids it seems.

“Information that I’m presenting to them I feel like I’m learning with them.”

This element of sharing the information they learn with their parents is something Pesce said she has tried to encourage her own students to do.

“I try to get the kids to share their story back with parents because this is new for the parents too — this isn’t stuff that we were taught taught in school.”

Just Posted

Chevron’s move to exit Kitimat LNG project a dash of ‘cold water’ for gas industry

Canada Energy Regulator approved a 40-year licence to export natural gas for Kitimat LNG

New report into sawmill explosions released

The report recommends streamlining investigative process

No parole for 12 years for Burns Lake man convicted of second degree murder

Judge said he did not believe Albert Giesbrecht’s claim his gun discharged accidentally

Snowfall warning continues for parts of B.C.’s Interior

First significant snowfall of the season prompts Environment Canada warning

Coastal GasLink receives first delivery of pipe sections

Company expects to begin welding and pipe laying in 2020

‘Not a decision I came to lightly:’ Scheer to resign as Conservative leader

Decision comes after weeks of Conservative infighting following the October election

B.C. SPCA seizes dogs chained up outside among scrap metal, garbage

Shepherd-breed dogs were living in ‘deplorable conditions.’

B.C. plane crash victim identified; witnesses describe ‘explosion’

He was a flight instructor, charter pilot and owned an airstrip before leaving Alberta

BC Hydro offers tips as collisions with power poles increase

Region with the largest spike in collisions was the Lower Mainland at 16 per cent

Canadian airline passengers to be eligible for $1,000 in compensation for delayed flights

Passengers can also receive compensation for overbooking, lost luggage and other inconveniences

RCMP must bury three sex mannequins found in Manning Park

Police tasked with ensuring the mannequins were completely disposed of

B.C. seniors need better vaccine protection, advocate says

Home support down, day programs up in annual rating

RCMP rescue wounded raven on Vancouver Island highway

Bird expected to make full recovery

Be aware of ticks when chopping down Christmas trees

Potential for ticks to transfer to clothing

Most Read