Students from Marie Sharpe Elementary School join Cheryl Champan from Xat’sull First Nation and Mike Retasket of Boneaparte First Nation to lead the crowd in traditional song during last year’s Orange Shirt Day in Williams Lake at Boitanio Park. Angie Mindus/Tribune file photo

SD27 prepares to celebrate Orange Shirt Day for the fifth year

Orange Shirt Day critical for all students, says SD 27 superintendent

Since its inception in 2013, Cariboo-Chilcotin School District has been a staunch supporter of Orange Shirt day bussing its students to events each year.

As Orange Shirt Day falls on a Sunday this year, Superintendent Mark Wintjes still wanted to mark the event with his students. As such the district will be observing the day on Sept. 26 with events happening in Williams Lake and 100 Mile House.

Beginning at 10 a.m. at Boitanio Park, the event’s Master of Ceremonies is Jerome Beauchamp and will be opened with a prayer and song from Virginia Gilbert. Guest speakers throughout the event include Esk’etemc chief Fred Robbins, Mayor Walt Cobb, MLA Donna Barnett and Wintjes himself, among others.

The event will be concluded with a drumming circle led by Cheryl and Mike Ratasket before the students are bussed back to their respective schools. Honouring and recognizing the importance of this event to his First Nations students was at the forefront of Wintjes’ mind.

“It’s very similar to how we run our Remembrance Day celebration. If it falls on a holiday or a weekend we always do recognition in school prior to Remembrance Day,” Wintjes said, adding that school districts across the province are selecting alternative days to celebrate this important event.

Read More: PHOTO GALLERY: Orange Shirt Day in Williams Lake 2017

Truth and reconciliation are a huge priority for SD 27, as almost 35 per cent of district students identify as being First Nations. As a result, he believes teaching and honouring their history through events like Orange Shirt Day are integral to meeting that mandate.

“We need to recognize where we’ve been, yet move forward in a positive direction,” Wintjes said.

Despite the difficult nature inherent with the conversations around residential schools, Wintjes said he has seen a tremendous growth in the support his students show for this event. There is a “sea of orange” at each event now showing their support and active involvement with the day.

First Nations District Principal David DeRose said that bringing the students to this event each year is important in the process of instilling within them the importance of reconciliation and that of First Nations-based education.

DeRose said the tremendous growth of the event since its first year has been somewhat overwhelming for him and other members of the Orange Shirt Committee.

He noted they’ve received feedback on the event from not only all over Canada but also internationally as Indigenous groups continue the global talk of reconciliation.

Read More: Abbotsford students play and learn in Williams Lake on Barkerville trip, meet Orange Shirt Day co-founder Phyllis Webstad

“In the integration of Aboriginal content in all aspects of the curriculum, it’s important that we have kind of have a jumping off point with Orange Shirt Day. It helps the teachers be able to start having these tough conversations within the classroom,” DeRose said.

DeRose and Wintjes invite all members of the community to celebrate Orange Shirt Day with the district on Sept. 26.


Do you have a comment about this story? email:
editor@wltribune.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

The more things change, the more they stay the same following federal election

The way people voted this year shows how diverse our opinions on politics really are

VIDEO: Tsilhqot’in Nation celebrates new solar farm west of Williams Lake

Tsilhqot’in Solar Farm is 100 per cent owned and operated by the nation

Election 2019: Calogheros feeling excited early on election night

Liberal candidate Tracy Calogheros says she has really enjoyed the campaign

Scheer says Canada more divided than ever, as NDP and Bloc hold cards close

While Liberals were shut out of two key prairie provinces, they took two-thirds of the seats in Ontario

Horvat’s hat trick lifts Canucks to 5-2 win over Red Wings

First career three-goal game for Vancouver captain

Saanich Gulf-Islands’s Elizabeth May coy about leadership plans

The federal Green party leader talks possibility of running as MP without being leader

Estheticians can’t be forced to wax male genitals, B.C. tribunal rules

Langley transgender woman Jessica Yaniv was ordered to pay three salon owners $2,000 each

Two youth arrested in UBC carjacking at gunpoint, after being spotted in stolen Kia

‘A great deal of credit is due the alert person who called us,’ said North Vancouver Sgt. Peter DeVries

People’s Party of Canada’s anti-immigration views ‘didn’t resonate’ with voters: prof

Party was formed on anti-immigration, climate denying views in 2018

Investor alert: ‘Split games’ pyramid scheme circulating in B.C.

British Columbia Securities Commission issues warning about scheme selling virtual shares

Federal NDP may support B.C. with major projects, Carole James says

SkyTrain Surrey extension, Massey Tunnel need Ottawa’s help

‘Issue-by-issue parliament’: Expert says Liberals need to placate NDP to be effective

Scandals, social issues, racism defined 2019 federal election, SFU prof says

Most Read