Pearl Lorentzen
Lakeside Leader

September 30 is Orange Shirt Day and the second annual National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

The slogan of Orange Shirt Day is ‘Every Child Matters.’ It is a day to raise awareness about the history of Indian residential schools in Canada.

In May 2013, at a commemoration project and reunion of an Indian residential school in BC, one of the survivors told a story about her first day of school. Her new orange shirt was taken away. Since then, orange has been the colour to represent Indian residential school survivors, their families, and the history of the schools.

National Day of Truth and Reconciliation is a federal holiday, which means that post offices and other federally regulated industries are closed. Schools and some others have also chosen to be closed to commemorate the day.

Slave Lake
The Slave Lake Native Friendship Centre is holding a National Day of Truth and Reconciliation and Orange Shirt Day event. People are encouraged to wear orange. The event has two locations. It starts with a pipe ceremony by Alma Desjarlais at 10 a.m., at the Friendship Centre. Treaty 8 Drummers will also play. At 11:30 a.m., the location changes. People will walk from the town office to the Friendship Centre. A stew and bannock lunch will be provided at the Friendship Centre.

In Wabasca on Sept. 30 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., there is an Orange Shirt Day and Truth and Reconciliation event at the George D. Auger Community Hall. This is put on by Bigstone Community Wellness, Bigstone Public Health, and M.D. of Opportunity FCSS. For information, call Coreen 780-891-3777 or Janice at 780-891-2659.

Slave Lake Library
On Wednesday, Sept. 28, the Rotary Club of Slave Lake Public Library has a two special story times and crafts in recognition of Truth and Reconciliation Day. At 10:30 a.m., there is one for young children and families. At 4 p.m., there is one for older children and families.

Area schools
To honour National Day of Truth and Reconciliation, all Slave Lake, Kinuso, and Smith schools are closed on Sept. 30.

Also in the month of September students are learning about the legacy of Indian residential schools and Orange Shirt Day.

For example, Carrie McGillivray, FNMI Success Coach, did presentations in E.G. Wahlstrom and Kinuso schools. FNMI stands for First Nations, Métis and Inuit.

HPSD students are encouraged to wear orange shirts on Sept. 29.

Smith School principal Amber Hensch says, “For Truth and Reconciliation Day, we got a past Indigenous student to create an amazing design for our orange shirts that is absolutely breathtaking and full of so much meaning. We are planning on having her come in and talk to the students about what the design means and encourage using art as an advocate for Indigenous culture. This will be on Thursday, September 29th.”

Grade 4 students at E.G. Wahlstrom School in Slave Lake taking part in an Orange Shirt Day colouring contest.
Photo courtesy of Carrie McGillivray.