Orange to remember residential schools

Pearl Lorentzen
Lakeside Leader

The Youth Council for Truth and Reconciliation sold out of orange shirts in Slave Lake.

Area schools, the Métis Nation of Alberta Region 5 office, local businesses, and individuals acknowledged the history of the residential schools by participating in Orange Shirt Day, on September 30.

Orange was chosen because of Phyllis Jack Webstad’s story, says orangeshirtday.org/phyllis-story. When she was six years old in 1973, she went to residential school. In preparation, her grandmother took her to the store to pick out a brand new bright orange shirt. When she got to the school, they took her clothes, including the shirt. She never wore it again. Orange always reminded her of the little children crying, while no one cared.

Swan River School, High Prairie School Division Schools, and Smith School did Orange Shirt Day on Monday.

St. Francis of Assisi and St. Mary of the Lake Catholic Schools did Orange Shirt Day on Thursday, September 26. There was a ceremony with a traditional drummer and Stan Isadore spoke about residential schools. In groups students built a teepee, played Indigenous games and created their own T-Shirt designs for an Orange Shirt day design contest.

The Junior Girls Falcon Volleyball team from St. Francis also wore orange at the Court Battle Classic volleyball tournament.

Métis Nation served bannock and stew to remember all the children survivors of the Indian Residential School Era.

The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation at the University of Manitoba has published a National Student Memorial Register: Remembering the Children Who Never Returned Home. It lists all of the students who are known to have died at residential schools. Research is still ongoing.

The following are lists of students who died at the schools around Lesser Slave Lake from this list.

Lesser Slave Lake Residential School (St. Peter’s) Lesser Slave Lake, Alberta: Minnie Boucher.

Desmarais Residential School (St. Martin’s) – Desmarais-Wabasca, Alberta: Alex Crow, Eliza Auger, Malcolm Auger, Maria Desjarlais, Maria Lucie Beaver, Mary Hilda Elizabeth Bigstone, Mary Yvonne Beaver, Rose Rabbit, Anthony Percy Moses, Alice Rabbit, Gabriel Desjarlais, Malcolm Joseph Auger, Marie Gilberte Crow, Martha Auger, Mary Rabbit, Paul Loonskin, Stanley Gullion, and Mary Manossa.

Grouard Residential School – Grouard, Alberta: Yvon T. Thunder, Freddie Thunder, Jimmy Colin, Leon Lalonde, Mary Jules, Adam Big Feet, George Big Bear, Jimmy See See Quon, Marie Beaver, and Yvonne Thunder.

Joussard Residential School – Joussard, Alberta: Agnes Sawan, David Cardinal, Elizabeth Badger, Johnny Pushkeum, Madeleine Chalifoux, Melanie Walker, Mora Moostoos, Peter Okimaw, Veronique Ward, Carl Robert Napio, Edward Willier, Gerald Charles Badger, Louis Willier, Madeline Giroux, Michael Prince, Patsy Giroux, Tommy Willier, and Virginia Collins.

Smith School students wear orange for Orange Shirt Day.

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