Kenora Catholic Honours Orange Shirt Day

Kenora Catholic Honours Orange Shirt Day
Posted on 10/01/2021
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Students at St. John School hold up signs that say Every Child Matters

Prior to even the first bang of the drum at 9:05 a.m., a sea of orange swept over Kenora Catholic schools on Thursday morning as students, staff and families reflected on truth and reconciliation in honour of Orange Shirt Day and the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

Elder Terry Skead led the drumming followed by a prayer spoken in Anishinaabemowin. Afterwards he explained what he’d prayed for.

“What I just said was a prayer for what today is about, reconciliation. We all know that every child matters. In our positions we teach our kids, so I asked the Creator for guidance, strength and healing for us to go on, not to dwell in the past,” he said.

Students from PJP tie orange ribbons on their fence.“The prayer service continued what has been a solemn week of education about residential schools and the impact they had and continue to have on FNMI families and communities. Students were encouraged to wear orange t-shirts on Thursday for what was one day of many activities and teachings throughout the week.We’re not just talking about today, but in the future. I prayed for all the kids we teach to learn and I hope everybody has a good future.”

At Pope John Paul II School students tied orange ribbons along their fence, while over at École Ste-Marguerite Bourgeoys students decorated orange T-shirts with “Every Child Matters” slogans and placed them in their windows.

At St. John School in Red Lake every student joined together in a walk to St. John Roman Catholic Church where prayers were said and residential schools discussed. Grade 3-8 students continued the walk through downtown Red Lake carrying “Every Child Matters” signs.

Students at St. Louis hold up their orange tshirts with messages of hope.At St. Louis Living Arts School students engaged in age-appropriate lessons that focused on truth and reconciliation and the ways to increase understanding and respect for all others. The Gr. 3/4 class created orange shirts with messages of hope that were then attached to the school fence.

Finally, at St. Thomas Aquinas High School more than 200 students traveled to the Whitecap to join the community pow wow.

Grade 10 student Jake Kakepetum spoke about why he thinks it’s important to have conversations about residential schools.

“It’s so recent. One of my Mom’s friends went to a residential school and they don’t like talking about it. We were silenced so early, so it’s good to spread awareness about this,” he said.

Students from St. Thomas Aquinas watch the community pow wow.Kakepetum added that he was happy to see how many students were participating in Orange Shirt Day activities.

“My friends were interested in the history and all the events that occurred. There’s a lot of people wearing orange which it really nice to see,” he said.

Fellow St. Thomas Aquinas student, Eden MacNeil, explains why she thought it was important their school be a part of the community event.

“I think it’s really important because the people who experienced it, are still experiencing it today. It’s awful and no one deserves to be put through that and I think it’s really important that we rectify the situation and I think they deserve total justice,” said MacNeil.

Tatyana Sandy-Kasprick poses for a photo in her fancy shawl outside of the pow wow.STAHS Grade 9 student Tatyana Sandy-Kasprick danced in her fancy shawl at the community pow wowTatyana Sandy-Kasprick is a Grade 9 student at St. Thomas Aquinas High School and was one of the fancy shawl dancers at the pow wow. She spoke about what it was like dancing in front of her peers.

“It was nice that they finally acknowledged what happened in the residential schools. It’s really nice representing my culture. I feel strong and empowered.”

While the week for Truth and Reconciliation wraps up today, the final piece is a reminder that reconciliation is not something that can be done in an hour, overnight, or one day of wearing orange. Our history of Residential Schools will always challenge us to work hard to re-build our relationship with First Nation, Métis, and Inuit peoples and communities, and ensure that every child matters moving forward. This may be the last day of our Truth and Reconciliation week, but the actions and values of this week need to be practiced all year long.

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