Orange Shirt Day helps promote awareness, reconciliation

Date Posted: November 7, 2016

On Friday, September 30th the Red Deer College Aboriginal Group, with help from Campus Rec and the Student Ambassador Leadership Program, recognized Orange Shirt Day.

Through its Orange Shirt Day activities, the student group helped promote awareness and reconciliation in concern to Aboriginal residential schools. Planning for this important event started last May.

This event could not have been the same without the support of CAT Fund, which helped with the purchase of t-shirts. Using paints provided by Campus Rec, the canvas (98 in total) for the mural, and student knowledge we strove to create awareness for the day.

The event would not have been able to take place without the volunteers (Cortney Yeo, Elissa Norris, Keanna Groves, Nevine Dada, Elena Rousseau, Heather Moraal, Savannah West, Toby Nwabuogor, Cody Mills, Patti LaPointe, and Sylvie Masson). Bannock and condiments, contributed by Kasey Fulton and Wendy Cameron, were also given out to celebrate traditional food and start conversation. 

Cody Mills who led the event for the whole of its six hours was knowledgeable about the subject and purpose of the event and was willing to help educate and help others gain understanding. He helped share that the effects of residential schools are not a thing of the past, as the last residential school did not close till 1996 in Saskatchewan.

He also clarified why the orange shirts were the subject of the event. Phyllis Webstand was the original owner of the orange shirt. She attended a residential school in 1973/74. She picked out an orange shirt especially to attend her first day of school, but it was stripped from her just like many elements of Aboriginal culture. Her story, however, did not end there.

Upon leaving the school, she started a journey of healing and went on to help create a way for others to do the same. This resulted in the celebrated awareness of Orange Shirt Day. The reception of this event at RDC was one of positivity.

Special thanks goes out to all the participants of the event who took the time to paint the murals, designs t-shirts, gain knowledge on the subject of aboriginal schools, and celebrate reconciliation.
-Sylvie Masson


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