School children from Esk’etemc (Alkali Lake) received an unexpected gift from National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo during Orange Shirt Day — honouring residential school survivors and those who never made it — event held in Boitanio Park Monday in Williams Lake.
Atleo invited the students, staff, Chief Fred Robbins and former chief Charlene Belleau up to receive the gift.
“I want these kids to receive this jersey,” Atleo said.
The jersey was one worn on opening night by the Western Hockey League’s Vancouver Giants during a game held Friday, Sept. 20, commemorating the Alkali Braves.
“There was a man by the name of Alec Antoine that was one of the best players on that team,” Atleo told the kids. “Antoine was going to residential school and sports was a way of survival.”
Atleo said he wanted the children to know they come from greatness and genius, but were told at one point in time their people weren’t smart and could not accomplish great things.
“We’re here to remind them today that they do come from greatness, genius and brilliance, that’s this little story. I want the schools to come together and learn this story together and of all the lineages of the students and all of the pasts. That’s when reconciliation will really occur.”
Kids will lead the way forward, Atleo added.