Organizing an Orange Shirt Day

Context

Four years earlier, the student read the novel "Fatty Legs" by Christy Jordan-Fenton and was inspired to read more books that told the story of First Peoples experience in Canada. Her teacher recommended "Indian Horse" by Richard Wagamese and this book transformed the student’s thinking. She continued to seek out stories of Indigenous Canadians and her interest to learn more was fostered by her parents. She attended presentations by Indigenous experts and activists, including a colloquium with Wab Kinew and she was persistent in searching for information about the injustices felt by Indigenous Canadians.

As the student listened and built her understanding, she also spoke to others about what she was learning. In a conversation with a family friend, she discovered that an awareness initiative about Residential Schools and Indigenous injustice was already growing in Canadian schools. Orange Shirt Day wasn’t a part of her school yet, but because it was already an established day and other schools were doing it successfully, she felt it was possible to make it a part of her own school culture.

The student recognized that there was limited awareness of Canadian Indigenous injustice at her own school and she felt empowered to create change. She approached her school counsellor, her leadership teacher, and her principal. She showed them examples of Orange Shirt Day from other schools within her school district and expressed her belief that their school needed to do this. Everyone was in full support of her ideas. 

The student recognized that she was going to need help to make things happen. She is not Indigenous, and she did not have experience in organizing school-wide events. She spoke with Indigenous activist Phillis Webstad, who is the spokesperson for Orange Shirt Day, and she sought ongoing advice from her leadership teacher and school principal. She understood that she wouldn’t be able to take this on by herself, so she recruited a team that was willing to help organize the event. 

Leading up to Orange Shirt Day, she set and adjusted goals based on the advice of her experts. She listened carefully to the feedback she was receiving and created actions that were attainable for everyone involved. She spoke at a staff meeting and provided resources to get the teachers involved. With her team, she worked to promote Orange Shirt Day throughout the school by selling t-shirts and speaking in classrooms about the event.

Illustration

Student Reflection

The student wrote a reflection on the process of organizing an Orange Shirt Day. She also wrote an acrostic poem after this experience self-assessing her core competency in Communication.

Teacher Reflection

On Orange Shirt Day, many students wore an Orange t-shirt to school and the student felt that there was increased awareness of the legacy of Residential Schools among her peers. The students who worked on her team also became more passionate about raising awareness about the legacy of Residential Schools. The event also received media coverage. Although she is proud of her accomplishments, she recognizes that there is still opportunity to grow. She continues to be active in raising awareness about Indigenous injustice issues and she looks forward to the next school year where she can build on the momentum in making Orange Shirt Day an important part of the school culture.

Profile Analysis

Collaboration

Pensée critique et réflexive

Conscience et responsabilité sociales