The art of moulding young minds took preschoolers on a historical journey last week.
Little Badgers Early Learning Program early childhood educator Evelyn Walker and her peers commemorated Orange Shirt Day with their students in Windermere on Sept. 30.
“It was a good day and I feel our kids had a good grasp on why we were celebrating and why we were wearing orange shirts,” said Walker. “I was impressed with our three and four year olds.”
Orange Shirt Day is a legacy that began when the St. Joseph Mission Residential School Commemoration Project and Reunion events took place in Williams Lake in the spring of 2013. It united former students and families from the Secwepemc, Tsilhqot’in, Southern Dakelh and St’at’imc Nations with the Cariboo Regional District, school districts, civic organizations as well as elected officials from a number of municipalities by commemorating the residential school experience for survivors and their families to work toward healing.
Now, it is recognized in communities across the nation by people of all ages. The daylong lesson at Little Badgers began with reading survivor Phyllis Webstad’s iconic account about attending residential school in B.C. in “The Orange Shirt Story” and was followed with a classroom discussion about what each child’s most beloved possession and how they would feel about losing it, or being split up from their families.
“We talked about how they would feel if they couldn’t see their loved ones or be with their families,” said Walker. “We don’t touch too much on cultural genocide with three and four year olds, but we focus on connection to our families. I think everybody had a good day.”
She indicated that some children began reciting Webstad’s story throughout the school-day and began imagining hypothetical scenarios about what their lives might be like if they had to sleep at school for the school year.
Walker signed out “The Orange Shirt Day Story” from the library to prepare the lesson and quickly recognized how comprehensive the story was for all ages. She added Little Badgers students quickly noticed illustrations that showed the protagonist’s long hair being cut short on the next page.
“They picked things up on their own,” she said about the story. “It’s a nice book. It’s simple. And it’s really well done.”