Day 19 (of 185) #OrangeShirtDay – the good, the bad, the awkward
This is the second year of “Orange Shirt Day” – chosen as the day that would help our nation address something that was unspoken for so, so, so long. Residential Schools:
The good: we are talking about it. Throughout my library time this week we have shared thinkings and stories around what it must’ve been like. Comparing the difference between a “residential school vs a boarding school” – boarding schools are where either the parents or students want the kids to be there whereas residential schools often neither parent nor student wanted the kids to be there. We talked about what happened (at grade appropriate entry points) and the ongoing after effects.
Kids talked about it. Asked questions. They asked very good questions. They demonstrated empathy. We wore orange shirts on the 30th if we had them, and shared they were thinking “orange thoughts” if they didn’t have orange at home.
Influential adults are sharing stories – like @thehipdotcom Gordie’s work: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/thunder-bay/gord-downie-chanie-wenjack-1.3753823
The bad: acknowledgement is hard. Especially as the Canadian identity wants to be “nice and accepting”. But even though we are very well known for saying “sorry” there are some times where “sorry” isn’t enough. I still remember being surprised to learn while I was at university that the last residential school was finally being closed. While they had impacted the community I grew up in, I hadn’t thought it was an ongoing issue…..and remains an ongoing issue. Telling the truth isn’t always as easy as it should be. Reconciliation can be confusing – because forgiving isn’t the same as forgetting.
The awkward: we still have a long standing tradition in BC Education that September 30th is our “count day” – the number of students registered and attending our school on that day is how we generate funding…….yep, the same day that the authorities were charged to go into homes to bring students to school….we are asked to submit names and numbers of students who are in our schools. In a sense it’s a good reminder of what the day “once meant to so many” and hopefully change “what it means” to another seven generations.