Phyllis Webstad holds up the gathering blanket the staff and students of Dog Creek school made and presented to her during Orange Shirt Day. Webstad is the creator of Orange Shirt day.

Lake Trail students plan special project for Orange Shirt Day

Orange Shirt Day recognizes Indigenous children who were sent to residential schools

Sept. 30 is Orange Shirt Day — and Lake Trail Community Middle School has a special project planned to mark the occasion.

Orange Shirt Day is a day to acknowledge and honour thousands of Indigenous children who were taken away to residential schools across Canada.

Orange Shirt Day began in Williams Lake in 2013 by survivor and author Phyllis Webstad. Webstad’s children’s book, The Orange Shirt Story, conveys the message that every child matters, and raises awareness about racism, bullying and the injustices of residential schools. Today, Orange Shirt Day events have spread to communities and schools across the country.

The Lake Trail Community Middle School Indigenous Education team is planning an Art and Story Walk installation in the forest around the school. The pages of The Orange Shirt Story will be displayed on a path through the forest behind Lake Trail School (Roy Stewart Morrison Nature Park) along with signs that remind everyone that every child matters. Collaborative artworks made by Lake Trail students will also be installed. They will express and represent the students’ feelings around the story and the history of residential schools in Canada. At the end of the walk, students will gather and meet with an elder from the community who will speak to them about these events from our past and answer questions.

“We are really excited to share with the community, our first project this school year,” said Jenna Flint and David Dawson, Lake Trail’s Indigenous Support Workers. “Lake Trail students will experience the installation on Wednesday, Sept. 30, then other district schools including Nala’atsi, Courtenay’s school for students with Indigenous ancestry, will visit on Oct. 1 between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.”

“Students are hard at work enhancing the trails that surround the school, creating sculptural pieces made from natural materials, and spreading the word about Orange Shirt Day,” said Lake Trail art teacher Barb Mareck. “We hope to have several local Indigenous artists involved in the project.”

The Art and Story Walk is open to the public as a self-guided walk on Thursday, Oct. 1 from 2–5 p.m.

Principal Gerald Fussell invites the community to come and experience the walk, beginning at the back of the school’s top field, off of Lake Trail Road.

To get involved with this project, contact Flint at Jennifer.flint@sd71.bc.ca, or call the school at 250-338-3168.

Remember to wear an orange shirt on Sept. 30!

Courtenayresidential schools

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