Left-right: Clairmont Community School Grade 8 students Korbin Brown, Wyllo Lindberg and Breanna Peters sit with CCS Indigenous Liaison and Junior High Art Teacher Sheila Payeur in front of the Cree word "Kiskisowin" which translates as "He/She Remembers", made up of some of the names of the 2,800 children who lost their lives in residential schools.
An Orange Shirt Day installation at Clairmont Community School (CCS) offers a sobering display of the tragic history of residential schools. CCS Indigenous Liaison and Junior High Art Teacher Sheila Payeur says she shared the National Student Memorial Register with her junior high students, an online list of names of students who never returned from Canadian residential schools. The list, part of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation Commission website, divulges the names of 2,800 children who are accounted for as having died in the residential school system.
According to the Memorial Register website, extensive work remains to find all the children who never returned home, and their burial sites.
"Our Junior Highs wrote each of the 2,800 names on a single strip of orange construction paper, and posted them throughout our entire school," says Ms. Payeur. "Once we completed the continuous line of names, we found we still had a large number left over, so we were able to construct a bear mural. I then looked to Barb Belcourt, Indigenous Liaison and Cree Instructor at Hythe Regional School, for a word or phrase around "remembering" to create a second mural. She responded with "Kiskisowin", which means "He/She Remembers" in Cree."
Ms. Payeur says writing and pasting the 2,800 names was a joint effort of junior high students, herself and other CCS teachers. She noted that three students returned often during their recess and lunch breaks to work on the project.
Grade 8 student Wyllo Lindberg says, "Seeing all the names together helps me realize how many children died in residential schools."
Classmate Brenna Peters adds, "When you look at all the orange slips, they take up the whole school, and then there's this huge bear as well. There's just a lot who died. When you write them all out and see that it covers your whole school, it really puts it into perspective."