Audio: Lowell Yellowhorn, coordinator of the Indigenous Support Program
Lethbridge College is gearing up for Orange Shirt Day activities on Monday, Sept. 30 and week-long display about residential schools that is open to the public.
“Orange Shirt Day is about building relationships and understanding,” says Shanda Webber, Lethbridge College’s manager of Indigenous Services. “It’s about educating our students, staff and our community members about residential schools and moving forward together.”
On Monday, members of the Indigenous Services team will be handing out orange t-shirts starting at 8 a.m. in Centre Core. They will also distribute orange paper, cut out in the shape of a t-shirt, on which individuals can share what Orange Shirt Day means to them.
A brief program will begin at 10 a.m. in Centre Core that will include the opening of the week-long exhibit on loan from the Legacy of Hope Foundation. The exhibit includes the residential school experience from the perspective of First Nations, Métis and Inuit people.
At 11 a.m., students and staff can attend a panel discussion on residential schools in the E.C. Fredericks Theatre (CE1365), featuring Grandparents/Elders from the college’s Indigenous Cultural Support program: Peter Weasel Moccasin; Georgette Fox; Betty Ann Little Wolf; and Louise Saloff.
Webber said the last of Canada’s residential schools closed in 1996, so they are recent history, and until recently, their legacy was not taught in Canada’s schools. Knowing this history and the effects these schools had on stripping generations of Indigenous children of their language, culture and dignity, is part of the process of reconciliation.
“It’s not placing blame and it’s not placing guilt on current generations,” Webber said. “It’s an acknowledgement of what happened and it’s us moving forward together not only as a society, but as a country to say we never want that to happen again. We want a brighter future for Indigenous and non-Indigenous children and for future generations to come.”
The college is currently developing an Indigenous strategy titled “Coming Together in a Holistic Way.”
“In the form of reconciliation,” said Webber, “every person at Lethbridge College has a role to play in regards to reconciliation. It’s the responsibility of every Canadian.”
Lowell Yellowhorn, coordinator of the Indigenous Support Program, said he hopes southern Albertans embrace Orange Shirt Day as an opportunity to contribute to the reconciliation process and see how Indigenous culture lives at the college campus.
“This is a beautiful opportunity to witness a beautiful movement going on in Canadian culture, as we refer to it as reconciliation,” Yellowhorn said. “Indigenous knowledge, traditions and culture are being preserved here at Lethbridge College. It is very inclusive and we want to ensure those cultural connections are being made for not only for our students but for our communities as well.”
The public is invited to see the display from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday, Sept. 30 through Friday, Oct. 4, in Centre Core. While on campus, visitors may also want to view the display of art and artifacts in the Welcome to Ohkotoki’aahkkoiyiiniimaan showcase in Centre Core, which tells the story of the college’s Blackfoot name. Ohkotoki’aahkkoiyiiniimaan means Stone Pipe.
Another area of interest is Founders’ Square, where more Indigenous art and artifacts are displayed in an area devoted to the history of the college and the land on which it stands. Founders’ Square is in the Andrews Building, across from the Food Court.
The Niitsitapi Gathering Place is located between Centre Core and Founders’ Square, at AN1501.