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Alternative Education
News Item

Orange Shirt Day at PWPSD schools – Every Child Matters

October 10, 2018

Schools within Peace Wapiti Public School Division (PWPSD) will reflect on the legacy of residential schools during Orange Shirt Day events, to be held in advance of or following this year's official observance, which falls on Sunday, September 30. PWPSD Indigenous Educator Brigitte Benning will be among the keynote speakers at the City of Grande Prairie observance, to be held during 11:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. at Centre 2000 on Sunday.

The Orange Shirt Day Campaign – Every Child Matters – is a growing movement of reconciliation, and legacy of the 2013 St. Joseph Mission residential school commemoration event held in Williams Lake, B.C. It grew out of former student Phyllis Webstad's account of having her new orange shirt taken away on her first day of school. The awareness campaign is an opportunity to continue the discussion on all aspects of residential schools. The September date chosen for the commemoration reflects the time of year when children were taken from their homes.

This year, PWPSD administrators, teachers and FNMI Liaison Workers have been invited to participate in the Walking Together: Education for Reconciliation Professional Learning Project – a series of Alberta Teachers' Association (ATA) workshops and resources. In 2017, PWPSD staff participated in district-wide professional development dedicated to the Indigenous Education Initiative, a partnership between PWPSD and the University of Calgary's Werklund School of Education. The sessions focused on understanding the Truth and Reconciliation: Calls to Action, addressed key aspects of Ethical Relationality, and provided opportunities for participants to engage and work with colleagues.

The following PWPSD schools will host Orange Shirt Day events:

Event Date/SchoolEvent Details
Week of Sept. 24-28:
Beaverlodge Elementary SchoolDuring the week of Sept. 24-28, the school will outline the significance of Orange Shirt Day through daily announcements and Facebook posts. Sept. 28 will begin with 'O Canada' played in Cree, staff will wear orange shirts and encourage students to do the same, everyone will receive an 'Every Child Matters' button, and FNMI Liaison Worker Krista Lucas will share Phyllis' Story and an accompanying PowerPoint presentation with students.
Friday, Sept. 28:
Harry Balfour SchoolAll staff and students are encouraged to wear orange. Classes will read a book on residential schools.
Hythe Regional SchoolStaff and students will wear orange shirts, decorate orange hearts to share with Mentor Time partners, and attend an assembly and round dance at 1:10 p.m. to acknowledge the history of residential schools and honour survivors.
Penson SchoolAll staff and students are encouraged to wear orange. 
Robert W. Zahara Public SchoolStaff and students are encouraged to wear orange shirts. The day will begin with 'O Canada' played in Cree, followed by a moment of silence. Teachers will share Phyllis' Story with their classes. Grades 6-7 reading time will focus on residential school stories and related materials. The school will celebrate their 'Project of Hearts' artwork. FNMI Liaison Worker Angela Dougal will share a PowerPoint on residential schools, with stories from survivors. Music classes will sing First Nations, Inuit and Métis songs. The day will close with a group photo of everyone wearing orange shirts.
Rycroft SchoolStudents are encouraged to wear orange.
Savanna School and Bonanza School

Savanna School will welcome Bonanza School students for a full day of activities, in participation with Alberta Culture Days. Students are encouraged to wear orange shirts. The event is supported by Savanna School, the Alberta Government, Saddle Hills County and the Central Peace Early Childhood Coalition.

Group discussions around the powwow, drum, regalia, and the significance of dance:
Grades 1-2: 10:00 a.m. - 10:45 a.m.; Grades 3-5: 10:50 a.m. - 11:35 a.m.; Grades 6-8: 12:30 p.m. - 1:15 p.m.
Students will also participate in a dance and sharing circle in the gym.

Public event: Join students and staff from Savanna and Bonanza Schools and local Indigenous dancers and drummers for traditional Indigenous dance, 2:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.

Spirit River Regional AcademyStaff and students are encouraged to wear orange shirts. Teachers will read Phyllis' Story with their classes.
Whispering Ridge Community SchoolStaff and students are encouraged to wear orange shirts.
Woking School

Staff and students are encouraged to wear orange shirts or accessories. Teachers will share Phyllis' Story. Students will decorate heart-shaped cookies with orange icing to share with others.

Monday, Oct. 1
Bezanson SchoolEveryone is encouraged to wear orange. Students will participate in Orange Shirt Day activities in their classrooms.
Clairmont Community SchoolStudents and staff are encouraged to wear orange and everyone will receive an "Every Child Matters" button. A school-wide assembly will include a moment of silence. The school has invited an Elder to address students at the assembly and share her residential school experiences with junior high students during a breakout session. The school will create a collaborative memorial art piece honouring those who attended residential schools, featuring student and staff handprints on a large Medicine Wheel with the words "Every Child Matters." The Medicine Wheel represents a message of wholeness and balance in Indigenous culture. Students will learn that all people are equal, all people matter, and because everyone has a place in the circle, everyone is needed to make a circle complete.
Eaglesham SchoolStudents and staff are encouraged to wear orange.
Wembley Elementary SchoolStaff and students are encouraged to wear orange. Teachers will share Phyllis' Story in an age-sensitive manner. Students will decorate orange shirt images with the 'Every Child Matters' message of compassion, to be posted in the foyer and halls.
Thursday, Oct. 4
Elmworth SchoolStaff and teachers are encouraged to wear orange. 

Members of the media who are interested in attending events should R.S.V.P to angelasears@pwsd76.ab.ca. Visitors must check in at the school office upon arrival. For more information about Orange Shirt Day, visit http://www.orangeshirtday.org.

Photo: Hythe Regional School hosted its first Orange Shirt Day event in September 2016.