In honour of Orange Shirt Day – held in Canada each year on Sept. 30 as a way to raise awareness of Canada’s history of residential schools and treatment of Indigenous people – students at Semiahmoo Secondary and Semiahmoo First Nation have partnered together.
Today, students at the South Surrey high school are wearing orange shirts adorned with the SFN logo.
In a news release issued this week, Derek Strauss, vice-principal at Semiahmoo Secondary, said the idea for the custom shirts “stemmed from the creative energy of the school’s Indigenous Advocate teachers, Christian Snead and Jeff Williams,” as well as ongoing conversations, which began 18 months ago, with SFN Chief Harley Chappell.
“I reached out to Chief Harley Chappell because it was important to me that Semiahmoo Secondary acknowledge our roots on the Peninsula with the Semiahmoo First Nation,” said Strauss.
“We want to ensure we maintain a positive relationship with the community in the spirit of reconciliation and carry on this dialogue as we rekindle the relationship.”
The logo-adorned shirts, which were made by the school’s technology education department, the release notes, are “just the start” of a collaboration between the school and the First Nation, Strauss said, adding that plans to share SFN’s artwork, culture and history with students are in the works.
The two groups may also work together on a new school logo in the future, he noted.
“We want to use this opportunity to educate students on our past, and how we can continue to preserve our history moving forward,” said Chappell. “Collaborations of this nature are vital in sharing the impact of the past on our communities and raising awareness for future generations.”
For more on Orange Shirt Day, visit www.orangeshirtday.org