Swift Current Comprehensive High School was one of two Saskatchewan schools chosen by the Assembly of First Nations and the Office of the Treaty Commissioner to receive orange t-shirts for all students as part of an Orange Shirt Day initiative.
A special assembly took place at the school on Oct. 1 during which students and staff wore their orange t-shirts.
A number of dignitaries were present for the event, including First Nations elder Sylvia Thorburn, Swift Current MLA Everett Hindley, Swift Current Deputy Mayor George Bowditch, Chinook School Division Board Chair Kim Pridmore, Chinook School Division trustees Larry Caswell and Tim Weinbender, Chinook School Division Director of Education Kyle McIntyre, and Chinook School Division Superintendent of Schools Kathy Robson.
First Nations elder Sylvia Thorburn opened the assembly with a prayer in Cree. Both her parents were residential school survivors.
A video was played with remarks by Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde about the significance of Orange Shirt Day. Students Kassidy Painchaud and Owen Ljunggren made a presentation about the various activities that have taken place in the school during the past few weeks to give students and staff an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of Orange Shirt Day and the significance of the harm done by residential schools.
These activities took place across all grade levels as part of numerous subjects in the curriculum. Orange Shirt Day, which started in 2013, is commemorated every year in communities across Canada on Sept. 30. It was inspired by the story of Phyllis Webstad (née Jack), who as a six-year-old child went to a residential school in William's Lake, B.C. Upon arrival at the school she had to take off all her own clothing, including a new orange shirt, which she never saw again.
Orange Shirt Day takes place at the end of September, because it was usually the time of year when children were taken from their homes to residential schools.