Regina remembers residential school survivors with Orange Shirt Day
Orange is usually just a colour but on Sept. 30, it carried a different meaning as hundreds of people across Regina showed their support by wearing bright orange T-shirts.
The Orange Shirt Day movement started three years ago in Williams Lake, B.C. It’s inspired by the story of a six-year-old girl who attended a residential school in 1973 and had her bright orange T-shirt taken away.
At Ecole Connaught Community School, students took part in a special assembly learning about the history and impact of residential schools.
“[It’s] to honour all of the children that went to residential school,” grade six student Leah-Ann Prosper said.
Noel Starblanket is a residential school survivor. He attended the Lebret Indian residential school between 1953-1964. Decades later, he said he still remembers the pain.
“I’ve spent 36 years trying to recover from what happened to me. It’s a struggle,” he explained.
He said he forgives now and it’s helped become part of his healing process.
“We acknowledge you and we’re going forward now, remember what happened now and working with you,” Starblanket said.
“Allying with you to recover with you and that makes me very happy.”
Starblanket said it’s a step in the right direction to continue the conversation about residential schools and its impact on survivors.
The school’s principal Lori Daelick said the students took part in writing lessons throughout the week.
“The teachers really went back to the time in history where this all began, and so the message was about healing and making change and being the difference in the world today,” Daelick said.
The province has also proclaimed Sept.30 as the official Orange Shirt Day.
Mayor Michael Fougere said it’s an important piece of history that needs to be remembered and recognized.
“It’s really important to recognize the impact those schools had on our indigenous people. It’s symbolically important to unify our voices in terms of how we feel about this,” Fougere said.
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