One out of every 25 lockers at Hugh Boyd Secondary will be plastered with an orange sticky note on Monday to represent the children who died in Canadian residential schools.
Each sticky, placed on the lockers on Orange Shirt Day, Sept. 30, will bear a “striking” message: the odds of Indigenous children dying in residential schools was one in 25, said Michael Taylor, social justice teacher at Hugh Boyd secondary. In contrast, the odds of Canadians dying in the Second World War was one in 26.
Orange Shirt Day is an annual, national event that began in 2013 to educate students and communities about the effects and history of Canadian residential schools where many Indigenous children faced mental, physical and sexual abuse.
The sticky notes are just one of many activities planned by students in Taylor’s two social justice classes at Hugh Boyd.
Other activities in the students’ school-wide awareness campaign include a residential school “museum,” located underneath one of Hugh Boyd’s stairwells, which features a collage of photos along with quotes and statistics that relate to residential schools.
At 10 a.m. on Monday, teachers will acknowledge Orange Shirt Day and pop an orange balloon filled with dozens of notes with residential school statistics. Each class will then read the notes one-by-one and discuss them, said Taylor. This school-wide lesson plan was created by the social justice students.
One of the school’s art students has designed a series of temporary tattoos, said Taylor, that depict Indigenous designs — the student consulted an Indigenous student to ensure the artwork was appropriate — as well as the Orange Shirt Day slogan: “Every child matters.”
Each of the events was formulated by Taylor’s students, who spent the past week, both during and outside of class, executing their ideas.
“We started our social justice class this year by completing a unit of lessons on contemporary and historical Indigenous issues in Canada,” said Taylor, “knowing it would dovetail into our planned awareness campaign for Orange Shirt Day on Sept. 30.”
The lessons began by looking at European colonialism and expansion into North America from the perspective of Indigenous peoples in Canada, said Taylor, in order to draw forth empathy and understanding of the plight facing these peoples.
The classes then examined the Canadian residential school system, said Taylor, where many Indigenous children were isolated from their families, traditions and culture in order to assimilate them to Canadian culture.
“As a result of learning about and, in turn, building an empathy for the challenges of residential school survivors,” said Taylor, “the students have been incredibly eager to organize and promote the (Orange Shirt Day) campaign around the school through posters, as well as on social media.”
Taylor added that many of the students have changed their social media profile pictures to an orange symbol to commemorate the upcoming day. The students have also launched an Instagram account — @0range_shirt_day.h.b — for their campaign.