On September 30th Lake Trail Community Middle School will be celebrating Orange Shirt Day, a day when we acknowledge and honour thousands of Indigenous c1hildren who were taken away to residential schools across Canada. Orange Shirt Day began in Williams Lake in 2013 by survivor and author Phyllis Webstad. Webstad’s children’s book entitled The Orange Shirt Story conveys the message that every child matters, and raises awareness about racism, bullying and the injustices of residential schools. Today, Orange Shirt Day events have spread to communities and schools all over B.C. and Canada. 

The Lake Trail community will be involved in a special project and are very lucky to be collaborating with Lake Trail Community Education Society, as well as Story Walk though Comox Valley Lifelong Learning Program and the Vancouver Island Regional Library. The Lake Trail Community Middle School Indigenous Education team is planning an Art and Story Walk installation in the forest around the school. The pages of The Orange Shirt Story will be displayed on a path through the forest behind Lake Trail School, Roy Stewart Morrison Nature Park, along with signs that remind us that every child matters. Collaborative artworks made by the students of Lake Trail Community Middle School will also be installed and will express and represent the kids’ feelings around the story and the history of residential schools in Canada. At the end of the walk, students will gather and meet with an Elder from the community who will speak to them about these events from our past and answer questions.

“We are really excited to share with the community, our first project this school year,” say Jenna Flint and David Dawson, Lake Trail’s Indigenous Support Workers. “Lake Trail students will experience the installation on Wednesday, September 30th then other district schools including Nala’atsi, Courtenay’s school for students with Indigenous ancestry, will visit on October 1st between 10:00 and 2:00.” 

Lake Trail Art Teacher Barb Mareck is also very excited about the event. “Students are hard at work enhancing the trails that surround the school, creating sculptural pieces made from natural materials, and spreading the word about Orange Shirt Day. We hope to have several local Indigenous artists involved in the project.”

 The Art and Story Walk is open to the public as a self-guided walk on Thursday, October 1st from 2:00 – 5:00. Principal Gerald Fussell invites the community to come and experience the walk, beginning at the back of the school’s top field, off of Lake Trail Road.

 To get involved with this project, please contact Jenna Flint at Jennifer.flint@sd71.bc.ca , or by calling the school at 250 338-3168. Remember to wear an orange shirt on September 30th!

Anna Rambow

Coordinator, Lake Trail Community Middle Schoo