Sioux Lookout commemorates IRS survivors during Orange Shirt Day demonstrations
Jesse Bonello - Staff Writer
Sioux Lookout joined communities and groups across Canada in recognizing Orange Shirt Day and commemorating Indian Residential School (IRS) survivors and descendants, on Sept. 30.
Approximately 50 Sioux Lookout and area community members walked from Frog Rapids to the Travel Information Centre on Sept. 30 as part of a commemorative walk for Orange Shirt Day.
The event was sponsored by the Municipality of Sioux Lookout, the Sioux Lookout Chamber of Commerce, Kwayaciiwin Education Resource Centre, and Equay-Wuk Women’s Group.
“It was great. Mayor (Doug) Lawrance, Sol Mamakwa, and Rudy Turtle were a part of the walk. When Juliette Blackhawk, our Elder, said the opening prayer this morning there was an eagle that came and kept flying around us, so that was special,” said Darlene Angeconeb, Equay-Wuk Women’s Group Executive Director.
“The event has been good. This is our third year doing it,” she added.
“Orange Shirt Day and the associated walk is a very visible way to acknowledge, honor, and respect Indian Residential School Survivors and ‘Intergenerationals’. Congratulations to the local organizers for putting this together again, it was very well organized. Attendance was good and people were positive and supportive. I was very pleased to attend on behalf of the Municipality to show our support,” said Sioux Lookout Mayor Doug Lawrance.
With Sept. 30 being a PD Day for students, Sioux North High School (SNHS) and Sioux Mountain Public School (SMPS) came together on Oct. 1 for an Orange Shirt Day walk.
Approximately 700 students and staff, wearing orange attire, participated in the event.
The group walked south on First Avenue North to Fair Street, walked west along Fair Street to Third Avenue, and walked north on Third Avenue back to the two schools.
“I think it was special because the high school is new on our campus and we’ve wanted to make connections with them and there’s a lot that our schools can offer each other. We also have families that attend both schools, so it’s nice to see families together on a day like to today. It’s also nice to see us building positive relationships because, with Orange Shirt Day, a little bit is about relationships that were broken in the past and connections that weren’t allowed to be formed,” said Suzie Hughdie, SMPS grade four teacher.
“It was really exciting. We were at the front of the line and every once in a while we would look back and it felt pretty cool to see that many people out in support of survivors of Residential Schools,” she said.
“It was really inspiring. I loved seeing the wee little ones out there all the way up to the senior high school students, teachers, and the support staff. It was really wonderful to see the two school groups coming together… It was really exciting,” said Beth Dasno, senior class teacher at SNHS.
“We have Traditional Week coming up later in October, so that’s a week where we plan to unite on some different traditional activities and projects,” she said.
Angeconeb said she was happy to see school’s recognize the day as well as students learning more about Indian Residential Schools.
“As a residential school survivor, I think it’s good that the schools recognize it (Orange Shirt Day) because that’s where the education needs to happen for them to learn about residential schools and the legacy. We’re looking at the second or third generation now since residential schools, and it’s not something that we ever want to happen again. We also know that there was a lot of abuse that was passed down through the generations. It’s really hard for some families and we’re seeing that in our society. With the homelessness and addictions, those are all results, I think, of that legacy. People need to learn about it,” she said.
For more information on Orange Shirt Day, visit www.orangeshirtday.org.