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Ronna Pethick, board chair of Living Sky School Division, speaks about the effects of residential schools at the Living Sky School Division office last Wednesday. Photo by Josh Greschner As part of Orange Shirt Day, Living Sky School Division embraced reconciliation along with many other educational institutions.

Orange Shirt Day began in 2013 to commemorate students who attended residential schools.

The day began with a smudge at the school division office led by Walter Swindler of Sweetgrass First Nation in which staff participated.

A motto on orange shirts was “Every child matters.”

“Every child matters and it’s important that we live that, realize that and indoctrinate that into everything we do at Living Sky,” board chair Ronna Pethick said.

Director of Education Brenda Vickers said many children were forcibly removed from their homes and treated badly at residential schools.

“A number died and may didn’t return home,” Vickers said, adding the school division had an “unwavering commitment to reconciliation.”

Swindler said he attended day school at age four and residential school is something he “always heard about.” He said he remembers children speaking Cree among themselves when they weren’t allowed to.

Swindler said his parents didn’t attend residential school as his grandparents kept them from going.

Learning Consultant Sherron Burns also spoke about the effects of residential schools and the school division’s work.

“Things are changing but we see lots of separation in our community,” Burns said. “We have to be able to break that down.”

The session concluded with Living Sky staff writing notes to residential school attendees.

Living Sky’s events that day included bringing students to the industrial school cemetery where they met local activists working toward securing heritage status at different levels of government.

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