How a Fort Langley school commemorates Orange Shirt Day – Aldergrove Star


A fundraising initiative to purchase Indigenous historical and cultural resources for the Fort Langley Elementary School Library, by creating orange shirts with designs and language provided by members of the Kwantlen First Nation, has seen a resounding success, almost all of the more than 300 shirts selling in about a week.

Organizer Nancy Gleeson, retired teacher-librarian and kindergarten teacher, would like to buy less “wasp” books on First Nations history and culture for first-time readers.

On the front, the shirt featured the Coast Salish Falcon School logo created by Kwantlen First Nation artist Phyllis Atkins and the message “Every Child Counts”.

READ ALSO: Teaching Canadians to Observance of a New Day of Truth and Reconciliation May Take Time

On the back there was an image of an eagle feather and a person with raised hands, as well as a message in the Hənq̓ ̓əminə̓ m̓ dialect saying “we have a strong soul, spirit and life force” , provided by Fern Gabriel, member of the KFN.

Fern Gabriel (left) and Phyllis Atkins of Kwantlen First Nation model orange shirts for Truth and Reconciliation Day bearing the motto TRUTH – Speak, Remember, Understand, Teach, Heal. Over 300 were made, and they were almost completely sold out within a week. (Byron Smith / Special to Langley Advance Times)

Orange Shirt Day was inspired by residential school student Phyllis Webstad, who recounted how, at the age of six, her new orange shirt, purchased by her grandmother, was taken from her.

Gabriel said she hoped the personal stories “would give a face to the painful past and lead children to compassion and understanding.”

Atkins explained that the human figure “raised her hands in a gesture that indicates thank you, respect and recognize something or someone.”

“The character sings,” Atkins continued.

“The eagle feather is very sacred. The eagle flies higher than any other bird and it is believed that the eagle carries our prayers to the Creator. The eagle feather is used in talking circles. Whoever holds the pen must speak the truth.

READ ALSO: Woman from Aldergrove Makes Hand Masks in Honor of Truth and Reconciliation Day

Additionally, the design incorporated the motto TRUTH – Speak, Remember, Understand, Teach, Heal – Gleeson’s idea, who hoped the acronym would lead to a discussion.

“As a society, we need to talk together and let Indigenous Elders remember their experiences by sharing their stories,” said Gleeson.

“This will lead us to better understand the truth of their journey and our history. “

READ ALSO: Indigenous Learning Day Planned at Trinity Western University in Langley

Parent Byron Smith, a designer who put the pieces together, said when the school PCB decided on the orange shirt initiative, he felt it was “super important” to have the orange shirt initiative. participation of the Kwantlen First Nation.

“This is the land we live on,” Smith remarked.

Gleeson explained that Orange Shirt Day, September 30, today the Day of Truth and Reconciliation, “was the time of year when the children were taken from their homes.”

“It is a day for survivors, and all generations to come, to reaffirm that they matter. Every child counts, even the one buried inside the adult survivor.

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First Nations Fort Langley Langley Residential Schools

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