Mike Archie demonstrates traditional singing and drumming for the students of Forest Grove Elementary School. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)

Mike Archie demonstrates traditional singing and drumming for the students of Forest Grove Elementary School. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)

Orange ribbons for reconciliation in Forest Grove

Students celebrate Orange Shirt Day and Earth Day

Forest Grove Elementary students showed off their new orange shirts last week at a joint Orange Shirt and Earth Day celebration.

The shirts, designed by Grade 7 students Marissa Taylor and Callie Gilbert, had been expected in September but were delayed until last month due to supply chain issues.

As a result, Principal Mark Doolan said they decided to have a special day to honour both Earth Day and Truth and Reconciliation.

As part of the event, Canim Lake Elder Mike Archie spoke to the students about both the importance of the land and the Orange Shirt Day to Secwepemc culture.

He said when he was young his uncle asked him what a blade of grass was worth.

“I didn’t really have any ideas but he taught me that a blade of grass feeds the animals. Every four-legged animal that goes around had something to do with a blade of grass and we depend on animals and the land around us to survive,” Archie said.

“It was a good little educational tool used by my uncle. It’s a very simple question.”

Archie noted Elders have traditionally been the knowledge keepers of the band and he wanted to share what he knew. That included the true legacy of residential schools.

Acknowledging that 215 children died at the Kamloops Indian Residental School and 93 at St. Joseph’s Mission is important.

He briefly shared the story of Orange Shirt Day’s founder, Phyllis Webstad, and how her own orange shirt was taken from her on her first day at St. Joseph’s.

To symbolize their support, the students tied 97 orange ribbons on the school fence, representing the children at St. Joseph’s. Wearing their orange shirts, they then cleaned up the playground, the grounds of the Forest Grove Community Hall and the side of Eagle Creek Road.

Gilbert said she was happy to see the shirts with her design finally being worn.

“I didn’t think I was ever gonna have my design on a shirt but it’s cool,” she said.

Archie said the students’ orange shirts were “excellent,” and he liked the symbolism of the open hands and the natural elements, such as an eagle feather, incorporated into the design.

“It’s very inclusive and it says that every child matters, whether you’re aboriginal or non-aboriginal.

“Our families are important and it’s our job as parents to look after the children,” Archie said. “They’re our gifts from the Creator and we look after them.”



patrick.davies@100milefreepress.net

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Bobby Christopher, centre, and Aaron Burmatoff tie orange ribbons to the fence of Forest Grove Elementary to symbolize that every child matters. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)

Bobby Christopher, centre, and Aaron Burmatoff tie orange ribbons to the fence of Forest Grove Elementary to symbolize that every child matters. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)

Forest Grove Elementary School students Riley Burgess (left), Bonnie Lythe, Lilly Chapman, Hermione Labinsky and Willoe Deneef all participated in an Orange Shirt Day/ Earth Day celebration last Thursday. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)

Forest Grove Elementary School students Riley Burgess (left), Bonnie Lythe, Lilly Chapman, Hermione Labinsky and Willoe Deneef all participated in an Orange Shirt Day/ Earth Day celebration last Thursday. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)

Aaron Burmatoff (left), Andrew Wells and Lynden Campbell tie orange ribbons to their school yard fence last Thursday. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)

Aaron Burmatoff (left), Andrew Wells and Lynden Campbell tie orange ribbons to their school yard fence last Thursday. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)

Bonnie Lythe (left), Lilly Chapman and Hermione Labinsky. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)

Bonnie Lythe (left), Lilly Chapman and Hermione Labinsky. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)

Students from Ms. Babicky’s Grade 3/4 class along with others at Forest Grove Elementary School tied orange ribbons to their schoolyard fence on Thursday. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)

Students from Ms. Babicky’s Grade 3/4 class along with others at Forest Grove Elementary School tied orange ribbons to their schoolyard fence on Thursday. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)

Arya Chaffee (left) shows off some trash she picked up at Forest Grove Elementary School to her classmates Carter Rushton Lewis and Jackson Riley. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)

Arya Chaffee (left) shows off some trash she picked up at Forest Grove Elementary School to her classmates Carter Rushton Lewis and Jackson Riley. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)

RIleyKeppler, still wearing her orange shirt, takes part in a playground clean up at Forest Grove Elementary School. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)

RIleyKeppler, still wearing her orange shirt, takes part in a playground clean up at Forest Grove Elementary School. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)

Faith Barber deposits some trash into a bag held open by Hailey Pressacco. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)

Faith Barber deposits some trash into a bag held open by Hailey Pressacco. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)

Parker Burgess and Alex Nicholson head back to their school after cleaning up trash along the side Canim Hendrix Road in Forest Grove. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)

Parker Burgess and Alex Nicholson head back to their school after cleaning up trash along the side Canim Hendrix Road in Forest Grove. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)

Lynden Campbell ties an orange ribbon to Forest Grove Elementary School’s fence while wearing an orange shirt. Principal Mark Doolan said the last school day of every month is an orange shirt day for the students so they remember the legacy of residential schools. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)

Lynden Campbell ties an orange ribbon to Forest Grove Elementary School’s fence while wearing an orange shirt. Principal Mark Doolan said the last school day of every month is an orange shirt day for the students so they remember the legacy of residential schools. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)