Students at Ruth King Elementary School and Spencer Middle School gathered Thursday (Sept. 29) morning to honour and learn more about the survivors and victims of the residential school system.
The events were held to mark National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, also known as Orange Shirt Day. Happening a day early due to school closures on Sept. 30, the event saw students from both schools gather in a circle on the Ruth King field as a symbol of unity, protection, and inclusion. Drumming, singing, prayer, and poetry performed both by Indigenous community members and students from both schools featured heavily in the ceremony.
“We want to have children in our schools realize what happened in residential schools,” said Ruth King principal Vicki Ives. “Our hope for the future is we can all work together to build people up and continue the conversation about what happened.”
Having students from multiple schools attend helped encourage community building and made it stand out to onlookers with hundreds of children in orange shirts standing together.
“I know people talk about it on the news, but some people still don’t know what Orange Shirt Day is, and they don’t know the significance. I want it to get out into the community.”
Among the students who presented at Thursday’s event was Brooklynn Barker-Hobbs, a Grade 8 student from Spencer.
“(Orange Shirt Day) means thinking back on what happened. It really wasn’t fair what happened to all the kids who lost their lives at residential schools,” said Barker-Hobbs. “We wear orange shirts to let survivors know we are here for them.”
Barker-Hobbs said she feels events like this in schools help teach students the importance of supporting Indigenous people and their culture, without non-Indigenous people controlling how they do that.
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