Orange Shirt Day 2021

A Day of Reflection and Commemoration

September 30 was a day of reflection and commemoration for Crescent boys as they honoured Indigenous peoples and their histories. The morning began with a full-school Orange Shirt Day assembly video. Students then participated in age-appropriate activities and conversations about the origins of the day, the impacts of residential schools on Indigenous people and their identities, and the 94 calls to action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. 

In order to deepen students’ learning, faculty laid groundwork early on that provided context for what would come. In June 2021, the Lower Library began to curate books by Indigenous authors. These are now being used by teachers to begin conversations about residential schools and make connections to themes such as Indigenous identity, belonging, and the importance of community. Middle School students taking drama this semester learned about residential schools through the acclaimed graphic novel and music album Secret Path, by the late Gord Downie and Jeff Lemire. They then created tableaus to accompany the soundtrack. In phys-ed class, boys learned about Indigenous sports and the Inuit Games, then practiced the knee jump, one-leg wrestle, and seal racing.

Three large orange T-shirt “posters” are now adorned with notes from the boys, who were asked to reflect on their answers to the prompt, “Today I wear orange because…” “These responses, and the outcomes of ongoing activities and discussions like this, will guide the work of the student-led Indigenous Awareness and Action Team this year and beyond”, says Head of Libraries Trish Cislak who also acts as the faculty lead for the IAA. “The importance of blending these teachings into the curriculum year-round is evident,” says Middle School history teacher Charlie Mills. “Orange Shirt Day is a jumping-off point towards infusing lessons about Indigenous cultural wisdom and education into our program in an appropriate and intentional manner.”