Chilliwack schools urged to take part in Orange Shirt Day

Day grew from residential school survivor’s heart-breaking story in Williams Lake

Every child matters.

That’s the message behind this year’s Orange Shirt Day, Sept. 30.

The image on this year’s shirt, Mother Eagle, was designed by local Sto:lo Artist Jared Deck. He is from the Tzeachten (Chi’iyaqtel) First Nation within the Sto:lo Territory.

The shirts are being sold at Nations Creations at the Sto:lo Nation building on Vedder Road, for $20. In keeping with the theme of Orange Shirt Day, $5 from the sale of each shirt will go toward the Sto:lo Youth Mentorship Program. Schools, including students, are encouraged to take part in Orange Shirt Day. While the day falls on a Saturday, some local schools will choose the prior Thursday or Friday to acknowledge it, said school trustee Dan Coulter.

Orange Shirt Day is a legacy of the St. Joseph Mission (SJM) residential school commemoration event held in Williams Lake, in the spring of 2013. On that day, Phyllis Webstad told a heart-wrenching story of having her shiny new orange shirt taken away on her first day of school at the Mission. The day has become an opportunity to keep the discussion on all aspects of residential schools happening annually.

Webstad recalled how she was sent to the residential school near Williams Lake in 1973 as a six year old, leaving her home at Dog Creek where she lived with her grandmother because her mom left to work in canneries in the U.S. and Canada.

The date was chosen because it is the time of year in which children were taken from their homes to residential schools, and because it is an opportunity to set the stage for anti-racism and anti-bullying policies for the coming school year. It also gives teachers time to plan events that will include children, as we want to ensure that we are passing the story and learning on to the next generations.

Orange Shirt Day is also an opportunity for First Nations, local governments, schools and communities to come together in the spirit of reconciliation and hope for generations of children to come.

Jared Deck is a self-taught artist in the west coast salish art style and considers his artwork to be very contemporary with traditional elements. Using such mediums as acrylic, pencil, markers, watercolor and computer graphics. He’s an avid fan of tattoo style art and gets a lot of inspiration out of music.

READ: BC legislature shines spotlight on Orange Shirt Day

 

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