Shining a light on the impact of residential schools

Every year on Sept. 30, Canadians are invited to wear an orange shirt as a sign of remembrance and solidarity in honour of Indigenous children who were sent away to residential schools in Canada. The colour orange is symbolic of the abuse and harm that the residential school system had on Indigenous children.”My grandmother is […]
Photo: Laura Nelson
Allison Macleod and Chelsea Linklater, wearing orange shirts.

Every year on Sept. 30, Canadians are invited to wear an orange shirt as a sign of remembrance and solidarity in honour of Indigenous children who were sent away to residential schools in Canada. The colour orange is symbolic of the abuse and harm that the residential school system had on Indigenous children.”My grandmother is a survivor of residential schools, she is permanently scarred from it,” said Allison Macleod, general arts and science Aboriginal studies student.Macleod along with classmate Chelsea Linklater has helped organize Orange Shirt Day on campus in collaboration with other Algonquin students and staff at the Mamidosewin Centre. For Linklater and Macleod, Orange Shirt Day is about raising awareness about residential schools as well as misconceptions for people who do not know what residential schools are and the misconceptions about them.By shining a light on “the ugly truth,” Macleod says to pick your battles. Some people know and don’t care, while others choose to remain ignorant.“My grandparents were survivors of residential schools as well,'” said Linklater.”My grandfather was taught not to show any affection while in residential school.”It wasn’t until Macleod was 8-years-old that she learned about residential schools. “When I was told about residential schools, it was like my whole world fell apart for a second,” she said. “ I realized that the whole school system is a black hole in Canadian history, and it sucks everything in, and no one knows anything about it.”

Orange Shirt Day
The color orange is symbolic of the abuse that the residential school system had on Indigenous children. Photo credit: Laura Nelson

Orange Shirt Day is a reminder for all Canadians to reflect on history from the Indigenous perceptive. It’s also a chance for people to educate themselves on a dark part of Canadian’s history.”Yes, Canada did this and, yeah, your ancestors did this, but you live under their legacy,” said Macleod.“That doesn’t mean you have to feel guilty. It doesn’t mean you have to feel bad.”For Linklater, Orange Shirt Day is a way for her to teach the public on residential schools.”I want to educate people. I do not want to belittle them. If someone asks me something, I tell them my knowledge.” “I don’t know the whole thing because I am still learning,” said Linklater.

\There will be an event held for Orange Shirt Day Sept. 30, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Ishkodewan Courtyard, C Building- DARE District.

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