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Special guests for Orange Shirt Day were Preston Whitener, Shawna Olson '08, and their daughter, Ariya. (September 2021)

FROM HISTORY TO HEALING; FROM TRUTH TO RECONCILIATION

Orange Shirt Day, also National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, has now become a vital part of Canada’s 21st-century history and cultural identity. 
 
The Government of Canada states: “The day honours the lost children and Survivors of residential schools, their families, and communities. Public commemoration of the tragic and painful history and ongoing impacts of residential schools is a vital component of the reconciliation process.” Learn more at this link.
  
The Indigenous engagement team at the University of Manitoba shares that traditional territories acknowledgement is a reflection and expression of gratitude that recognizes the Indigenous land we occupy as a community while promoting a shared commitment to understanding historical events that have led us to present day.”
 
The Balmoral Hall School campus is located in Treaty 1 territory, on the ancestral lands of Anishinaabeg, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota, and Dene Peoples, and on the homeland of the Métis Nation.
 
“As educators, we play a vital role in ensuring our students learn the true history of Canada’s First Peoples, including the residential school experience, its influence on contemporary Canada, and our responsibilities as Canadians,” says Head of School Joanne Kamins.
 
“Helping students of all cultural backgrounds gain an understanding of the relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in Canada’s history is at the heart of our curriculum that educates, brings change, and fosters new relationships.”

On September 29, 2021, schools in Manitoba, including ours, observed Orange Shirt Day, observing a moment of silence to honour the children who survived residential schools and to remember those who did not.
 
Miigwech, a special thank you to Shawna Olson ’08, and Preston Whitener, whose daughter, Ariya, is in Junior Kindergarten.
 
Shawna and Ariya are Jingle Dress Dancers, and Shawna is from Brokenhead Ojibway Nation in Manitoba. Preston is Dakota, a Singer and Prairie Chicken Dancer, from Ho-Chunk Nation in Minnesota’s Twin Cities. He is a visual artist who specializes in porcupine quillwork.  
 
On Orange Shirt Day at Balmoral Hall School, Shawna shared information with students about the healing nature of Ojibwe Peoples’ Jingle Dress Dance. Accompanying Shawna (and Ariya, for a smaller audience of her Junior Kindergarten peers) was Preston, who sang and drummed while they danced. 
 
To create a visual representation of the approximate number of children who did not survive residential schools, everyone at Balmoral Hall School was asked to create feathers of hope in advance of National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on September 30, 2021.
 
With a template of feathers printed on orange paper, one side was meant to be a space for quotes, thoughts, and feelings, and the other was covered with creative designs, patterns, and illustrations.
 
Each of these feather templates, once completed by students and faculty/staff, were cut out and later displayed to raise further awareness of the very tragic legacy of residential schools in Canada.
 
“Facing difficult truths helps us on our paths to reconciliation,” reflects Mrs. Kamins. “We are saddened by the tragic legacy of residential schools. 
 
“Every child matters. How we educate that child matters. Their story matters.”
 
Earlier this year, we joined the families and community of Tk’emlúps te Secwe̓pemc First Nation in mourning their loss.
 
Students and employees wore their orange t-shirts on June 2, 2021 and participated in reflections of 2 minutes and 15 seconds to honour those children who never made it home.
 
In their memory, 215 orange ribbons were tied along our Westminster Avenue fence. Also on June 2, Olivia Olson ’21, and her mother, Mary-Lou Ducharme, spoke to us about their family’s history with and survival of residential schools, about healing, and about speaking the truth. On behalf of the Balmoral Hall School community, we thank them for leading a prayer, followed by a traditional smudge. Miigwech.
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Balmoral Hall School

630 Westminster Ave. Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada  R3C 3S1
Tel: (204) 784-1600 | Fax: (204) 774-5534 | info@balmoralhall.ca
Charitable Registration No. 12994 3932 RR0001
Our mission at Balmoral Hall School is to inspire girls' imagination and the courage to excel, to reach, to lead, to care.

We are an independent day and boarding school, offering an exceptional all-girls education from child care, starting at age 2, to Grade 12.