College of New Caledonia students, staff and faculty recognized Orange Shirt Day on campuses across the region Friday.
“CNC is celebrating Orange Shirt day to continue the dialogue about reconciliation and raise the awareness of experiences that Aboriginal children should never have endured and whose impact Aboriginal families still live with today," said Laurie Mercer, manager, Aboriginal Resource Centre, Prince George campus, in a press release.
Orange Shirt Day is a national initiative started in Williams Lake, which brings awareness to Canada’s history of the residential school system and the intergenerational trauma impacting generations of Aboriginal people. It recounts how one six-year-old’s experience at residential school of being stripped of her own orange shirt now holds true symbolic meaning for the atrocities faced by generations of Aboriginal, Metis and Inuit people in residential schools: http://www.orangeshirtday.org/
Clifford Quaw of the Lheidli T’enneh First Nation was on hand at the Prince George event, retelling his emotional experience as a residential school survivor.
Bannock was served and the documentary, ‘Secret Path’ was shown, featuring CNC’s Director of Aboriginal Education, Marlene Ericson. At the Burns Lake campus, students and staff gathered for reflection, and in Vanderhoof, CNC partnered with with Saik’uz First Nation for an informal walk-about in the community.
“This awareness campaign that ‘every child matters’ on this day translates to the priorities in our strategic plan here at CNC to ensure student success,” said Henry Reiser, CNC president. “On each of our six campuses we have Aboriginal Resource Centres (ARC) and dedicated learning spaces for our Aboriginal students with cultural advisors and elders who contribute to the learning and understanding of Aboriginal culture. I would also like to acknowledge the participation of other Aboriginal groups whose participation on Aboriginal Advisory Committees and the Yinka Dene Council to contribute to the success of Aboriginal Education at CNC.”
There are 21 First Nations communities whose traditional territories are located within the region served by the college.