Campus Life

U of L education students participate in Orange Shirt Day

University of Lethbridge education students will be participating in Orange Shirt Day on Monday, Sept. 30 as part of a three-day conference designed to build foundational knowledge about First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples.

Orange Shirt Day was created to educate people about the residential school system and the impact it had on Indigenous communities.

“The purpose of Orange Shirt Day here in the Faculty of Education is to generate awareness and understanding on a day where we remember the residential school system and its students, both those who survived and those who did not,” says Dr. Dawn Burleigh, education professor and conference organizer. “For future teachers, the residential school system has been the history of our profession and it’s particularly important that we understand that system and its implications for students and their families today.”

In Alberta, teachers are responsible for providing foundational knowledge about First Nations, Métis and Inuit in all classrooms in all schools. Thanks to a grant from Alberta Education, the Faculty of Education at the U of L is completing a two-year pilot project about how best to do that.

“Having Orange Shirt Day as part of a three-day Indigenous education conference for first-semester education students is to build towards an understanding of how we can better attend to Indigenous perspectives, histories, peoples and students in classrooms today,” says Burleigh. “Education students will be participating in a number of sessions that help build some foundational understanding so they’re better prepared when they start teaching in their full-time careers.”

The conference gets underway at 9 a.m. in the Students’ Union ballroom with drumming and a prayer by a Blackfoot Elder. Rudy Black Plume, a student in the U of L’s Niitsitapi Teacher Education Program who designed the artwork that appears on the orange shirts, will provide an artist’s statement. After a break at 10:30, students will participate in various educational sessions with Blackfoot and Métis facilitators. The conference wraps up Wednesday with drumming by a men’s group and dancing by students from Saipoyi Community School.