Orange Shirt Day is recognized each year on September 30. It is important to educate everyone about Canada’s wrongs so we can learn from it and begin to repair the damage that has been done. We have searched out some student friendly resources teachers can use in their classrooms to teach students about Residential Schools because Every Child Matters.
Remember, that your students may be new to learning about Residential Schools, so we ask that you preview all materials you plan to use and think about how you will answer tough questions-like the different types of abuse students suffered-so that you have answered prepared for the learning age and maturity of your students. While it is important to be honest with students, it is also important to give them age appropriate answers.
Here are some materials we’ve located for elementary aged children:
First Nations Child & Family Caring Society of Canada: The materials on the bottom portion of the page are best for young students.
Phyllis’s Story: The Original Story About Orange Shirt Day
St. Joseph’s Residential School Stories: A YouTube Video
And we found this video was one of the ones our students responded to. Every Child Matters
Ask your local librarian to search for these books so they can be part of your school library. Many are available online and some have recordings of the author’s reading them.
For younger students:
When I Was Eight by Christy Jordan-Fenton and Margaret Pokiak-Fenton
Arctic Stories by Michael Kusugak
Kookum’s Red Shoes by Peter Evyindson
I Am Not a Number by Jenny Kay Dupuis and Kathy Kacer
Shi-shi-etko by Nicola Campbell
Shin-chi’s Canoe by Nicola Campbell
Stolen Words by Melanie Florence
For older students:
The Secret Path by Gord Downie and Jeff Lemire
Fatty Legs: A True Story by Christy Jordan-Fenton and Margaret Pokiak-Fenton
A Stranger at Home: A True Story by Christy Jordan-Fenton and Margaret Pokiak-Fenton
No Time to Say Good-bye: Children’s Stories of Kuper Island Residential Schools by Sylvia Olsen
As Long as the Rivers Flow by Larry Loyie
My Name is Seepeetza by Shirley Sterling
So, how can your school be part of Orange Shirt Day? Wear orange shirts. Hold an assembly. Have door greeters ask students to sign a pledge to always remember. Get students to decorate orange shirts and wear them for the event. Hold a drum circle. Invite your local elders to come talk about their experiences. Have students learn about Residential Schools and tell others what they’ve learned. Read a book. Take a moment.
We’ve created a few simple pages you can use with your students. You can find them in our store.
Do you have other ideas of how you’ve observed Orange Shirt Day? Let us know in the comments below and we’ll add them to our list.