Listen below to a Special Radio Feature produced for Orange Shirt Day.
Wednesday marks Orange Shirt Day, an annual day to recognize and honour the thousands of Indigenous children who were sent away to residential schools across Canada.
The national day of recognition first began in 2013 with the “Orange Shirt” referring to a new shirt worn by Phyllis Webstad, a Northern Secwepemc student that was given the shirt as a gift by her grandmother for her first day of school in Williams Lake, B.C. at the St. Joseph’s Mission Residential School. The Ktunaxa Nation said that when Webstad got to school, her clothes were taken away and never returned, including the orange shirt.
“How my feelings didn’t matter, how no one cared and I felt like I was worth nothing,” said Webstad. “All of us little children were crying and no one cared.”
On Orange Shirt Day on September 30th, the Ktunaxa Nation shared a pledge of respect in both Ktunaxa and English.
Hu ȼaqunani. (I am small yet.)
Hu sakiⱡ ʔupxni qapsin ku kȼxaⱡ ʔitki·kȼiⱡ. (I still don’t know what I am being taught.)
ʔiki·kȼun! (Teach me!)
Paⱡ nawsanmiyitki hu ȼxaⱡ ȼink̓apaⱡtiⱡik. (For today I shall listen.)
Paⱡ nawsanmiyitki hu ȼxaⱡ ʔakunxam̓ni. (For today I shall try.)
Paⱡ nawsanmiytiki hu ȼxaⱡ wiⱡqaȼiʔti. (For today I shall honour…)
Ku ʔaqⱡsmaknik̓maⱡ, kit̓ki·kȼaⱡka ȼ kamin. (…my classmates, teachers and myself.)
As well a special QR code has been created by the Ktunaxa Nation Council Education and Employment Centre in collaboration with School District 5 so the public can listen to the pledge in the Ktunaxa language. The Ktunaxa Nation said the interpretation of the pledge into English was done with the help of Ktunaxa elders.
“This resource was created to encourage our friends to speak the Ktunaxa language – and Orange Shirt Day on September 30th is a great opportunity to try,” said Bonnie Harvey, Education Ambassador with the Ktunaxa Nation Council.
On Wednesday, the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation is hosting an online event open to all Canadian schools, entitled Every Child Matters: Reconciliation Through Education. The Ktunaxa Nation said those wanting to learn more about residential schools and how they fit into efforts of reconciliation can access other online resources as well such as the Assembly of First Nations’ learning toolkit called Plain Talk 6: Residential Schools.
“We’re super excited to share this invaluable resource with residents of ʔamakʔis Ktunaxa today – and we wish that all students have a safe and productive school year,” added Harvey. “We’ve got to take care of each other every day at school and at home, and respect is the starting place that leads to understanding and friendship.”
Listen to a Special Radio Feature produced by Bradley Jones for Orange Shirt Day: