Orange Shirt Day

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Scarborough Centre for Alternative Studies, September 2018. 

After watching We Were Children, and analyzing Kent Monkman‘s history painting entitled The Scream, students were instructed to depict an image on an orange paper shirt and to put it up in the school to honour residential school survivors.  They were also asked to make posters that communicate something about residential schools that they think people should know about.  Students were guided to focus on the resiliency of the survivors and to recognize how Canadians are complicit with the residential school project by occupying land that was stolen during this era.

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Students had watched Black Panther, studied African history and engaged in community building activities to support their understanding of Indigenous ways of knowing.  We realized that some of the West African Adinkra symbols that we had drawn in previous classes provided wisdom that could support reconciliation between Canadian settlers and the citizens of the Indigenous nations whose lands they occupy.

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The Sankofa symbolizes the importance of going back to the past to retrieve what was left behind.  It can be connected to the importance of listening to survivors’ stories, and to reclaiming the Indigenous knowledge that church and government officials tried to erase.

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