In the spirit of reconciliation, students in all three divisions at STS have been learning about the significance of Orange Shirt Day and the legacy of residential schools. Orange Shirt Day is a legacy of the St. Joseph Mission residential school commemoration event held in Williams Lake, B.C. since 2013. The date chosen is reflective of the time of year Indigenous children were usually removed from their homes and sent to residential schools. It is an opportunity for communities to come together in the spirit of reconciliation and to raise discussion about all aspects of residential schools.
Last week, Mr. Mahadevan read "My heart fills with Happiness" by Monique Gray Smith, an award-winning author and mixed heritage woman of Cree, Lakota and Scottish descent during the Senior School assembly to teach students about the effects residential schools had on students and their families. During our August PD days, STS faculty benefited from a presentation by Monique Gray Smith who focused on the importance of fostering paradigm shifts that emphasize the strength and resiliency of the First Nations Peoples in Canada.
In Middle School, Grade 7 students have been learning about Indigenous values as a foundational place for learning about Canadian History. Students completed peer assessments and self-assessments of this task in class which was then followed up by looking at Indigenous world views. In this approach, students are able to see Canadian history through the lens of Indigenous, French and English peoples.
STS also collaborated with local Indigenous artist, Kristy North Peigan to create an art piece that communicates North Peigan's interpretation of truth and reconciliation as an Indigenous woman. The painting highlights cultural and communal elements of Alberta's history from an indigenous perspective and will be displayed in the Peter B. Ditchburn library as part of our ongoing efforts to educate and raise awareness about the significance of reconciliation.
Inspired by the Aurora Borealis, the painting includes buffalo, constellations in the night sky, a smudge bowl as well was pictographs representing the nations of Treaty 7 on which STS' campus sits. The painting is a part of STS' truth and reconciliation collection, which highlights Canadian Indigenous authors to promote a deeper understanding of the history and experiences of Indigenous peoples in Canada.
By empowering students through knowledge and by participating in Orange Shirt Day, we hope students embrace the spirit of reconciliation and recognize the important role we all play in acknowledging the destructive legacy of colonization and, moving forward, in helping to establish respectful relationships among all people in Canada.