Orange shirts show support in Burnaby

Students and staff around the Burnaby School District donned orange shirts Wednesday to show support for survivors of Canada’s residential schools.

Orange Shirt Day is an annual day of recognition that started in Williams Lake in 2013 as part of a commemoration project for the St. Joseph Mission Residential School.

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The orange shirt pays tribute to the experience of Phyllis (Jack) Webstad, who went to the school in 1973/74.

Six years old at the time, her grandmother had bought her a bright orange shirt for her first day of school, but school officials took it away and never returned it.

At Burnaby North, social justice students wore the shirts, sparking comments and conversations in the hallways.

They prepared for the day with a 75-minute session on residential schools with aboriginal secondary resource teacherKarla Gamble and aboriginal youth and family worker Lorelei Lyons.

“It’s not that kids don’t know about residential schools,” social justice teacher Mandy Alves told the NOW. “They just don’t know the lingering effects of residential schools. They think of it as a point in history, just like world war 1. They think it’s gone.”

Alves said it’s good for younger students to see their older peers engage on the topic.

“There are conversations going on,” she said.

Orange Shirt Day was marked in a number of schools around the district, including Burnaby Central, Burnaby North, Burnaby South, Moscrop, Cariboo Hill and Clinton Elementary.

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