Throughout the Division, WRPS staff and students observed Orange Shirt Day, a national day of commemoration on September 30.
School communities came together in the spirit of reconciliation and hope for generations of children to come. Normally, staff and students would don their orange shirts and take part in activities such as school assemblies, guest speakers, storytelling and more. This year, schools enjoyed virtual assemblies, outdoor activities and many students created art projects to increase awareness and encourage conversations.
Falun School recognized Orange Shirt day with an online collaborative assembly. Staff and students came to school wearing orange shirts and they began the day with a reflective song about resilience. Throughout the day, each class read the Orange Shirt Day story and engaged in lessons and activities at their own level. During our online assembly, each class shared what they studied so all Falun School members could learn from each other. Our kindergarten, grade one, and grade two students designed orange t-shirts to help them remember that "every child matters" and that every person is unique and has valuable qualities. Our grade 3/4 students used the Orange Shirt Day story as an opportunity to discuss themes of diversity and explore vocabulary reflecting these themes. The grade 4/5 and 6 classes discussed the concept of empathy and engaged in self-reflection about what it would have felt like to be in a situation similar to what a residential school survivor experienced. All students at Falun School experienced valuable learning opportunities which helped strengthen their understanding of the importance of this day.
Orange Shirt Day is an annual Canada-wide event to commemorate the history and legacy of residential schools. It grew out of a gathering of survivors in Williams Lake, British Columbia in 2013, where Phyllis Webstad, who attended St. Joseph Mission residential school, shared her experience of having her new orange shirt taken on her first day.
Orange Shirt Day officially takes place on September 30 each year because it is the time of year children were typically taken from their homes to residential schools, and it helps set the stage for equality for all. Orange Shirt Day is an important observance, but it doesn’t represent the end of the conversation for staff and students. The Board's vision to ensure "a learning community that nurtures hope and inspires a sense of purpose for all" is reflective of a commitment on the part of staff and students to keep pressing towards the goal of reconciliation.