Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Creedance Ewenin, Age 11, Raising Awareness for Orange Shirt Day

When I first met Creedance Ewenin, she was a smiley, artistic, young girl who had signed up for voice lessons with me at Fort Music. Over the years, Creedance and I have shared our love for singing, but when Orange Shirt Day came along, we also realized we shared a passion for raising awareness around the legacy of Residential Schools.

I've asked Creedance, who is 11 years old and going into grade six at Fort Qu'Appelle Elementary Community School, to ask her mom and dad if I can interview her for my blog, Treaty Walks. Creedance messages me back that they are on their way to Edmonton, and her dad says yes.

Sheena. If someone had never heard of Orange Shirt Day, how would you explain it to them?

Creedance. I would say Orange Shirt Day is a day to honor/remember those who went to residential schools. All are asked to wear orange September 30th. It all started when a little girl who attended residential school lost her pretty orange shirt on the first day of school. Her name was "Phyllis Jack Webstad".

S. How did you first hear about Orange Shirt Day?

C. I first heard about Residential School from my dad. He didn't know about Orange Shirt Day, but he told me stories about our family who attended residential schools. Then, I heard about Orange Shirt Day from my Papa Lloyd Ewenin Sr. Then, I heard that my late cousin Jonathan Ewenin was a big supporter of Orange Shirt Day.

S. If someone had never heard of Residential School, how would you introduce this part of our shared history?

C. I would say residential schools were a very bad school. Children got taken away from their family's. Then, they were taken to the school. The federal government and the church took them away from their family's. The children were not able to speak their language. If they did they were slapped with a stick, ruler, belt, whatever the priest or nun had. Some children did not survive residential schools and some did.

S. I know that Mrs. Gehl and you also talked about Residential School in your classroom.Why is it important for school children to understand this history?

C. It is important for us school children to know about this history because it is important for everyone to know, even though it's a sad/dark part of our Canadian history. Everyone has the right to know.
S. How did you feel wearing an orange shirt, walking in the Canada Day parade with your dad?

C. I felt really proud of me and him for taking part in these activities and taking advantage of this so everyone can wear orange September 30th and know about this dark/sad history.

S. What are your hopes and dreams for Orange Shirt Day?

C. My hopes and dreams for Orange Shirt Day is that activities like this spread all over Canada and the world, so everyone can know about our history. And they can do something on September 30th.To honour those children who survived and did not survive residential schools.

S. What are your hopes and dreams for our community, our province, and our country?

C. My hopes and dreams for our community,our province and our country is that we will have peace. And everyone will learn to respect the world, the animals and our nature/environment. And everyone will respect each other's kind. And for kindness to spread all over our community, our province and our country.

When I read Creedance's last response, my eyes start burning with tears. I type back, "Oh, Creedance. This is so beautiful! I know that Elder Alma, who is helping guide us, has this dream, too. Let's work together to make this our reality."

"Thank you," replies Creedance. "I would love that."

Creedance and her dad, Nik, getting ready to walk in Fort Qu'Appelle's July 1st Parade

Creedance being interviewed by Cally from CTV's Indigenous Circle

Cally also interviewed Creedance's dad, Nik and me.
Journalist, Creeson Agecoutay, posted the clip on Indigenous Circle with the lead, "Looking back at last weekend's Canada Day in Fort Qu'Appelle, local students and community members raise awareness about Orange Shirt Day. An initiative that informs others about the history of residential schools in Canada. Give this one a watch."
We will be walking in Fort Qu'Appelle's Treaty Four Parade on Saturday, September 17th
to raise awareness for Orange Shirt Day, September 30th.

Please join us!

Check out our Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/events/292771287734912/

Kete-aya Alma Poitras who is helping guide our Orange Shirt Day in Fort Qu'Appelle
caught up with my daughter, Arwen, and I right after the parade.


No comments:

Post a Comment