Faculty of Education to mark Orange Shirt Day, September 29

Partnering with the PEI Department of Education, Early Learning and Culture to continue the discussion about the legacy of residential schools
Wednesday, September 27, 2017

UPEI’s Faculty of Education, working in conjunction with the PEI Department of Education, Early Learning and Culture, will honour Orange Shirt Day on Friday, September 29. Orange Shirt Day is an annual day of commemoration to continue the discussion about residential schools and their impacts.

Orange Shirt Day is named for an event in the life of Phyllis Webstad, a residential school survivor who had her new orange shirt taken on her first day of school in Williams Lake, British Columbia.

“In terms of history, it’s important to never forget,” said Brian Francis, Chief of Abegweit First Nation. “In order to move forward, we need to acknowledge our past and learn from it so that we never make the same mistakes again.”

Schools across PEI will receive resources to allow teachers and students to explore the topic of residential schools. The actual date for Orange Shirt Day is Saturday, September 30, but school events will be held Friday, September 29.

“We are excited to be part of a collaborative approach to spread awareness and to encourage students, teachers, and community members in Atlantic Canada to participate in Orange Shirt Day by coming together with First Nations in the spirit of reconciliation,” said Lesley Dickieson from the Department of Education. “Our hope is to see participation in Orange Shirt Day continue to grow year after year, but more importantly, that this day is only a starting point for the very important educational conversations that need to happen regarding all aspects of the residential school system in Canada.”

“We hope that Orange Shirt day brings a deeper level of understanding and empathy regarding residential schools and reconciliation to our PEI school children and post-secondary students, along with staff/faculty,” said Dr. Ronald MacDonald, Dean of the Faculty of Education at UPEI. “Indigenous and non-Indigenous alike are able to walk this road together to deeper understanding through these kinds of efforts. The Faculty of Education at UPEI is proud to play a small part to support this good work, which is done in a good way.”

Between 1870 and 1996, Canada’s federal government, along with the Catholic, United, Presbyterian, and Anglican churches, operated approximately 130 residential schools. More than 150,000 First Nation, Inuit, and Métis children attended these boarding schools far from their parents. These schools were created to remove children from the influence of their culture and to assimilate them into the dominant Canadian culture. The system deprived generations of children from their ancestral languages and exposed many to physical and sexual abuse, the legacy of which will be felt for years to come.

Schools across the Atlantic region will be encouraged to wear orange T-shirts on September 29. At UPEI, representatives from the Faculty of Education will be handing out “every child matters” buttons and orange shirts. Those who wear orange on Friday, September 29 are encouraged to come out for a group photo at 12:30 pm outside Don and Marion McDougall Hall. We look forward to seeing you all there!

The University of Prince Edward Island prides itself on people, excellence, and impact and is committed to assisting students reach their full potential in both the classroom and community. With roots stemming from two founding institutions—Prince of Wales College and Saint Dunstan’s University—UPEI has a reputation for academic excellence, research innovation, and creating positive impacts locally, nationally, and internationally. UPEI is the only degree granting institution in the province and is proud to be a key contributor to the growth and prosperity of Prince Edward Island.

Dave Atkinson
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