Orange Shirt Day: Every Child Matters

Today (Sept 30) is Orange Shirt Day. Quilchena students have been learning about and reflecting upon our history of residential schools through literature. Quilchena Elementary is located on the traditional and unceeded lands of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh people.

Orange Shirt Day library display
Orange Shirt Day display in the Quilchena library.

The information in this post is quoted and paraphrased from the Orange Shirt Day website:

In 2013 there was a reunion and healing ceremony held at St. Joseph Mission (SJM) Residential School (1891-1981) in the Cariboo. It brought together former students and their families from the Secwepemc, Tsilhqot’in, Southern Dakelh and St’at’imc Nations.

The events were designed to commemorate the residential school experience, to witness and honour the healing journey of the survivors and their families, and to commit to the ongoing process of reconciliation. Chief Justice Murray Sinclair challenged all of the participants to keep the reconciliation process alive, as a result of the realization that every former student had similar stories.

Orange Shirt Day is a legacy of this project. As spokesperson for the Reunion group leading up to the events, former student Phyllis (Jack) Webstad told her story of her first day at residential school when her shiny new orange shirt, bought by her grandmother, was taken from her as a six-year old girl.

The annual Orange Shirt Day on September 30th opens the door to global conversation on all aspects of Residential Schools. It is an opportunity to create meaningful discussion about the effects of Residential Schools and the legacy they have left behind. A discussion all Canadians can tune into and create bridges with each other for reconciliation. A day for survivors to be reaffirmed that they matter, and so do those that have been affected. Every Child Matters, even if they are an adult, from now on.

The date was chosen because it is the time of year in which children were taken from their homes to residential schools, and because it is an opportunity to set the stage for anti-racism and anti-bullying policies for the coming school year. It is an opportunity for First Nations, local governments, schools and communities to come together in the spirit of reconciliation and hope for generations of children to come.

On this day of September 30th, we call upon humanity to listen with open ears to the stories of survivors and their families, and to remember those that didn’t make it.

Families are welcome to come to the library this week and borrow a book from the display to read together at home.

If you only do one thing, do this!

I will regularly post about ways families can enrich students’ learning lives. One thing I will post about A BUNCH is reading aloud.

Reading aloud to children, even after they can read independently, is a hugely research-supported practice. I will try to post regular tips and supports here for families. Sometimes I will link to the supporting research or other opinion pieces, like this one from Happy You Happy Family which includes a good list of research findings as well as a list of “8 reasons why we don’t read aloud, and how to fix it.”

Mirrors and Windows

One of my goals this year (and for the next few years, probably) is to assess our fiction and picture book collections for balanced cultural representation. I want all students at Quilchena to see themselves reflected in the books they borrow from the library.

It’s really important for all our students to see themselves represented in a positive way in the stories they read, as well as in the current affairs and news they hear and see. There are some really amazing groups whose mandate is to promote diverse authors, illustrators and publishers, such as We Need Diverse Books. I will use the resources these groups provide to critically examine the range of stories we have at Quilchena.

This graphic is a representation of the state of the children’s publishing industry in 2018 from a US perspective. Read the article associated with the image

If you have a book that you’d like me to consider for our library collection, or if you come across a title currently in our collection that misrepresents a population, please let me know!