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News: Wednesday, September 30th, 2020

Listening and learning through Orange Shirt Day activities (PHOTOS)

The Abbotsford School District took part in an act of reconciliation and remembrance on September 30th as thousands of students, staff and families donned an orange t-shirt to honour residential school survivors and the generations of Indigenous families affected.

Across the school district, the Indigenous Education Department and Indigenous Support Workers planned and hosted activities for students in various settings. Activities and lessons were developed to foster students' understanding of residential schools' impact and serve as a remembrance of the Indigenous children who survived residential schools and those who did not. Some of the educational events that took place included:

  • At Sumas First Nation, students in the annex program start each day in the longhouse with Halq'emeylem, reflection, drumming, and often a message from an Elder to guide their learning day. Today, on Orange Shirt Day, the students walked to the homes of their Elders and residential school survivors and shared a traditional song and messages of gratitude in Halq'emeylem - "Thank you for protecting our culture and language. We are working hard to learn and carry forward.".
  • At Matsqui First Nation, students reflected on their family's strength and honoured survivors with a dedication to graduation.
  • At Godson Elementary, Elder Tina and Jayme Yarema sang and drummed Indigenous welcoming songs as students and parents arrived at school.
  • At Eugene Reimer Middle, students read the Orange Shirt Story in their new outdoor classroom, set up like an Indigenous Sharing Circle.
  • At Centennial Park Elementary, students and their Indigenous Support Worker, Tasha Ellis, made a unique poster for Orange Shirt Day, and all students talked about why they matter.
  • At Dormick Park Elementary, Tasha and her co-worker Shae Boone prepared a special video filmed at St.Mary's Residential School and shared the reading of the story by Nicola Campbell Shi-shi-etko.
  • At Ross Elementary, grade 5 students reflected on the experiences of Residential school survivors.
  • At Abbotsford Middle, Teacher for Indigenous Success, Kristine Douglas, and Indigenous Support Worker, Terry Crosby, created an informative, personal and powerful video to teach students and staff about residential schools in Canada. The video was viewed in every classroom in the school.
  • At Prince Charles Elementary, Indigenous Support Worker, Vanessa Fleury, lead her school through learning about residential schools and reflecting on the feelings of this history.

Orange Shirt Day originated in Williams Lake, B.C. During a 2013 commemoration event at a residential school, a story was told about a young female student named Phyllis whose brand-new, orange shirt was taken away her first day at the school. The orange shirt has become a symbol of the many losses experienced by thousands of students and families due to residential schools. The phrase "Every Child Matters" is used to recognize every child's value and bring communities together in the spirit of reconciliation and hope for future generations.

As part of its commitment to truth and reconciliation, the Abbotsford School District acknowledges the historical and ongoing injustices Indigenous Peoples endure in Canada. As an educational institution, the school district is committed to revealing and correcting miseducation and renewing respectful relationships with Indigenous communities through teaching and community engagement.


Media Contact:

Kayla Stuckart, Manager of Communications
Phone: (604) 859 – 4891 ext. 1206
Email: kayla.stuckart@abbyschools.ca

Reporting (Report Card)

330 by Staff