As part of our ongoing journey of reconciliation, there are many activities and learnings throughout the year in classrooms across the District. Orange Shirt Day and Truth and Reconciliation Week are opportunities at the end of September that help ground the conversations for the year ahead.
To start off Truth and Reconciliation Week, Squamish Nation Elder and Knowledge Keeper Chiaxst’n Wes Nahanee shared stories and knowledge with the entire school at Burnaby Mountain Secondary.
High School students at the Royal Oak Alternate Program are working on a garden project. Their hand-painted rocks will be combined with larger ones that read Namwayut, meaning we are all one – which comes from Kwak’wala language of the Kwakwaka’wakw peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast. Orange pansies donated by a local nursery will also be part of the installation.
At Glenwood Elementary, the entire school is taking part in an art project during the week, a full-day Indigenous dance performance and in-class workshops – all culminating in a school-wide Orange Shirt Day assembly.
The Provincial Outreach Program, Deaf and Hard of Hearing (POPDHH) collaborated with Indigenous representatives on productions in ASL. They created several videos, including the Orange Shirt Day story. Orange Shirt Day originated as a way to commemorate Phyllis’ story. As a young girl at a residential school in Williams Lake, BC, Phyllis Webstad had her orange shirt taken away on her first day. Wearing orange is one of the visible ways school communities in the District honour Indigenous people who were forced to attend residential schools, acknowledge what was taken away, and reinforce that every child matters.
There are many more examples of the learnings and explorations taking place throughout Burnaby Schools.
As well, in recognition of National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, flags at schools and all District sites will be lowered to half-mast on Friday.
Posted September 2022