Okanese First Nation walks to recognize residential schools on Orange Shirt Day
OKANESE FIRST NATION, SASK. -- Members of the Okanese First Nation walked proudly wearing orange shirts on Wednesday, to remember those who attended residential schools.
For some, the walk represents hardship lived by those in the past, for others it’s a reminder of what they’ve personally experienced.
"I lived in residential school for seven years and I lived through the trauma and the hurt and everything, but I learned to overcome it and forgive people, I moved on with my life so I could better my life, so my grandchildren wouldn't have to endure the hurt that I went through," said Patti Stonechild, a residential school survivor.
Wednesday marks Orange Shirt Day, which aims to commemorate the residential school experience and recognize the healing journeys of survivors of their families.
Stonechild said she prays for those who don't know how to overcome the hurt like she has. She added she’s glad the next generations won't have to go through anything like she did.
"In residential school we weren't allowed to show any affection and all that hurt was, we carried it as adults, and a lot of us didn't overcome it,” she said.
While the walk focuses on residential schools and the impact they’ve had on those who attended or lost loved ones. The nation’s Headman is hoping indigenous children will learn the importance of Orange Shirt Day and never let anyone forget what happened in those schools.
"We can break that cycle, those generational impacts that have been sort of followed us from that residential school era… they can not only remember what happened there and understand it, but they never have to go through that themselves," said Richard Stonechild, Headman of Okanese First Nation.
Okanese officials said they’re hopeful more education and understanding will continue to grow going forward.