Orange Shirt Day in Regina has students reflecting on residential schools

Orange Shirt Day honours the memory of a little girl named Phyllis who wore an orange shirt to her first day at a residential school. The shirt was forcefully taken away from her and she never saw it again.

Regina students honour residential school survivors with art

(L-R) Grade eight students Jake Martin, Tyler Fox, and Ethan Rotariu show their art projects for Orange Shirt Day.

Students at Gladys McDonald School in Regina have spent the last few weeks learning about residential schools. 

This week, they'll be sharing what they learned with their community. 

Orange Shirt Day involves the kids making symbols to honour residential school survivors and posting them around their neighbourhood. 

Paula Viher is one of the teachers involved in organizing Orange Shirt Day at the elementary school. 

"These kids are growing into citizens that already have that empathy and awareness about them" said Viher. 

She had her students read a book about a little girl named Phyllis who wore an orange shirt to her residential school. Phyllis was stripped of this shirt when she got to school, and never saw it again. 

"I think because for them, they are in school and to think about that and to put themselves in Phyllis's shoes, the young girl that happened to, is very powerful," said Viher. 

Many of the students said that they had learned about residential schools in previous classes.

"Lots of children use to lose their lives in residential schools where the government and stuff were taking over and taking First Nations out of their home, bringing them to school and treating them very badly," said Rayan, a student in Grade 8. 

"I just feel sad and kind of like guilty almost because it never happened to us and all those other kids had to go through stuff like that that we will never have to go through. It's just really sad," said Tyler, another Grade 8 student. 

Viher said that students in today's classrooms are introduced to residential schools earlier on and she believes it's important for students to learn about all parts of Canada's history. 

Gladys McDonald School is located in Coronation Park. 

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