A hands-on activity for K-3 students that explores Indigenous storytelling and language.
Students will learn about the origins of Orange Shirt Day, engage with Indigenous stories across B.C., and complete an educational colouring sheet.
On September 30th of each year, Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians wear an orange shirt to show their support for Indigenous reconciliation across the country.
Orange Shirt Day began in 2013 in Williams Lake, B.C. because of the trauma that Phyllis Webstad experienced at a residential school. Phyllis talks about her experience and she says: “I went to the Mission for one school year in 1973/1974. I had just turned 6 years old. I lived with my grandmother on the Dog Creek reserve. We never had very much money, but somehow my granny managed to buy me a new outfit to go to the Mission school. I remember going to Robinson’s store and picking out a shiny orange shirt. It had string laced up in front and was so bright and exciting – just like I felt to be going to school. When I got to the Mission, they stripped me, and took away my clothes, including the orange shirt! I never wore it again. I didn’t understand why they wouldn’t give it back to me, it was mine! The color orange has always reminded me of that and how my feelings didn’t matter, how no one cared and how I felt like I was worth nothing.”
Today, Phyllis is married, has one son, a stepson and five grandchildren. She is the Founder and Ambassador of the Orange Shirt Society and tours the country telling her story and raising awareness about the impacts of the residential school system. She has published two books, the “Orange Shirt Story” and “Phyllis’s Orange Shirt” for younger children.
As part of the commitment to honour First Peoples Principles of Learning in the BC Curriculum and residential school survivors, students will learn about the meaning of Orange Shirt Day and its importance. The learnings and sharings can be linked to numerous aspects of the BC curriculum and especially the personal and social responsibility. Click on the link for a detailed read on Orange Shirt Day Curriculum.
Rights, roles, and responsibilities shape our identity and help us build healthy relationships with others and are important for building strong communities. Learning about Indigenous peoples nurtures multicultural awareness and respect for diversity.
About the Artist, Nak’azdli First Nation, and Dakelh or Carrier Indigenous People:
My name is Herbert Shane Hartman. I'm a member of the Lhts'umusuyoo or Beaver Clan from the Nak'azdli First Nation. I grew up in the small Northern town of Fraser Lake, BC. It is a great place to visit cousins, aunties, and uncles as well as spending time riding dirt bikes and playing on the lakeshore. I am very honourd and excited to share some of my Indigenous culture with you.
The Dakelh or Carrier are Indigenous people from the Central Interior of British Columbia, Canada. Most Carrier call themselves Dakelh, meaning “People Who go Around by Boat“. For information,visit the Dakelh culture page.
The current population of Nak’azdli is close to 2000 members though only about 700 live “on-reserve.” Most of those living “off-reserve” live in Fort St. James or Prince George. There is also a significant population in Vancouver, but Band Members are scattered throughout BC and beyond.
The cultural relevance of Indigenous storytelling, in the words of the Orange Shirt Day activity illustrator, Herbert Shane Hartman:
“The cultural significance for me as an Indigenous person, is that the stories our Elders and community members shared provided a way for me to share time with other community members. When I was young the stories were cool to hear and made me look at the natural world with different eyes. I knew the stories were just stories, but I liked how we (Indigenous people) looked at the world a little differently.”
Visit Herbert Shane Hartman's website to learn more about the author.
It's recommended to show an image representing Orange Shirt Day to children, especially children who have newly immigrated here, and may not have heard of Orange Shirt Day. This visual will help young learners make a connection to the material. Here's an example image retrieved from The Canadian Encyclopedia.
Throughout the activity, assess your students’ abilities to:
Plant a herb in a pot and learn about how to keep the air clean in our community.
Power down your classroom and get energized outside.
Learn about food chains and interconnectedness with a fun, interactive game of tag.
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