Teacher Adding Blue Hearts to Orange Shirt Day

Posted On Friday September 25, 2020
Tracy Ned with blue heart picture
Tracy Ned, Secwepemc Language teacher at Valleyview Secondary in Kamloops, wants to add a new conversation about Residential Schools to Orange Shirt Day.

A Kamloops teacher and her students are adding blue hearts to Orange Shirt Day to shine light on young Indigenous youth impacted by the residential school system.

Tracy Ned is a Secwepemc Language teacher at Valleyview Secondary, and she says that while orange shirts focus on the survivors of Canada’s residential school system and their families, the blue hearts focus on the younger generations who continue to be affected by family trauma. She believes blue hearts on orange shirts to signify this ‘blue generation’ will help the healing process.

“People say why can’t they just get over it, that was in the past, the schools aren’t open anymore,” said Ned. “I just want people to realize [there are] students in classes, students who walk down the halls, they are really affected by this still and it’s going to take a long time for that to change. I think that a lot of people will find it helps them heal.”

Orange Shirt Day is a legacy of the St. Joseph Mission (SJM) Residential School (1891-1981) Commemoration Project and Reunion events that took place in Williams Lake, BC. It has now become a National event to commemorate the residential school experience, to witness and honour the healing journey of the survivors and their families, and to commit to the ongoing process of reconciliation. Chief Justice Murray Sinclair challenged all of the participants to keep the reconciliation process alive.

“As an aboriginal woman and educator, I understand that the topic of Residential Schools is a difficult one, that's putting it lightly,” said Ned. “As a mother of four and a grandmother, I am a daughter and granddaughter of survivors of the residential schools and the impact this has made upon my life was painful and not what I envision for future generations.

“Orange Shirt Day gave us the opportunity to discuss this difficult topic, and to have a conversation of what really happened there and who this has impacted. But we cannot forget that this has also affected the grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces, nephews, parents of the children you have in our classrooms in a way that maybe they have not even recognized yet, some know all too well these struggles and the causes and are deeply angry and saddened.”

Ned and her students are asking schools across District No. 73 to add blue hearts to their orange shirts on Sept. 30, and they are hoping their idea will catch on across Canada.


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