Orange Shirt Day is a national event that began in 2013 to educate and promote awareness about the residential school system and the impact this system had on Indigenous communities for more than a century in Canada. Public schools in New Brunswick marked the day on September 28.
At Centreville Community School, students wore their orange shirts and took part in a hike to Hays Falls on the Maliseet Trail near Woodstock. The hike was organized by teacher Shannon Pearson who has an Indigenous heritage and reached out to the Woodstock First Nation to help the school take part in the journey. The Maliseet Trail was used for thousands of years as an ancient travel route for First Nations people.
Terri- Ann Paul and Carole Polchies from Woodstock First Nation met with the students and staff at the trail entrance and discussed its history as well as the traditions of the Wolastoqiyik people and the impact of residential schools on their way of life. They also arranged for drummer Derry Fontaine to be present and to have the students help with planting trees along the trail.
"Developing an understanding and appreciation of Indigenous culture in students will help move current and future generations further along the path of reconciliation," said Chris Sparrow, vice-principal. "While it is not possible to change the past, it is important to learn from it and to recognize and work to right the wrongs that have been done in the past. We are fortunate to have members of First Nation communities who are willing to teach all of us a culture from which everyone can learn a great deal."
Below is a photo of Hays Falls along the Maliseet Trail near Woodstock First Nation where Centreville Community School students travelled on Orange Shirt Day. On the front page are vice-principal Chris Sparrow, Carole Polchies, Derry Fontaine and Terri-Ann Paul with students at the entrance to the trail.