Dallas Yellowfly shared his powerful story Qwalena: The Wild Woman Who Steals Children with a large group of Maple Ridge – Pitt Meadows School District No. 42 secondary students on Thursday.
The Aboriginal storyteller’s engaging two-hour multimedia presentation is designed to help raise awareness and understanding about the impact of residential schools.
“It was really fulfilling to see youth so engaged, inquisitive and respectful. The energy was so responsive which makes us feel like we must be doing something worthwhile,” said Yellowfly.
SD42’s Aboriginal Education Department organized Yellowfly’s presentation to help honour Orange Shirt Day: Every Child Matters, which takes place annually on September 30.
“Dallas Yellowfly does a phenomenal job blending humour and history, drawing the students in with his storytelling before engaging in a raw and frank discussion of the intergenerational impact of residential schools,” said Jessica Knott, Aboriginal resource teacher. “Many of the students walked away saying they were able to connect to his stories. His words resonated.”
“SD42 participates in acknowledging Orange Shirt Day as an act of reconciliation,” added Diane Graves, SD42 Principal Aboriginal Education. “Our actions are to honour the stories of all who have been impacted by residential schools and to take steps towards ensuring something like this never happens again. The slogan for Orange Shirt Day is ‘Every Child Matters’ and our district values this belief. Many of our schools are holding small events to bear witness to the impact of residential schools.”
About Orange Shirt Day:
Orange Shirt Day is a legacy of the St. Joseph Mission (SJM) residential school commemoration event held in Williams Lake in the spring of 2013. It grew out of Phyllis’s account of losing her shiny new orange shirt on her first day of school at the Mission, and it has become an opportunity to keep the discussion on all aspects of residential schools happening annually. The date was chosen because children are back in school and teachers have time to plan, and because it is an opportunity to set the stage for anti-racism and anti-bullying policies for the year. Orange Shirt Day is also an opportunity for First Nations, local governments, schools and community agencies to come together in the spirit of reconciliation and hope for generations of children to come.