A special message from Councillor Keith McGrath
By Dawn Booth, Connect Weekly
Students and faculty from the Fort McMurray school districts celebrated Orange Shirt Day to remember the legacy of the St. Joseph Mission (SJM) residential school commemoration event.
With local schools being closed on the traditionally honoured day of September 30, teachers and facilitators held special presentations and ceremonies to put focus on the themed day that ‘Every Child Matters’ on October 3.
According to Orangeshirtday.org, this year was the fourth anniversary of the movement, which was inspired to remember the First Nation students at residential schools across Canada. Today, the event continues to be recognized at a national level.
The awareness campaign was initially launched after Phyllis Jack Webstad, a Stswecem’c Xgat’tem First Nation elder in Williams Lake, B.C., shared her personal story of her first day at residential school in 1973 when she was six years old. It was then, she had her shiny, new, orange shirt taken away from her.
“The date was chosen because it is the time of the year in which children were taken from their homes to residential schools, and because it is an opportunity to set the stage for anti-racism and anti-bulling policies for the coming school year,” as stated on the official Orange Shirt Day website.
Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo Ward 1 Councillor and Vice Chair of the Fort McMurray Catholic School District Keith McGrath shared a special tribute on social media to not only recognize the day, but to reflect on the five month anniversary of the May 3 wildfire evacuation.
“I haven’t posted on Facebook in a while, but given that it’s been five months since that fateful day on May 3, I wanted to share a little something that’s been on my mind. We continue to work every day to get everyone home as quickly and safely as possible, so without further ado.”
“God bless our community, we’ve been through so much,” McGrath shared. “We will work toward a resolve that builds a stronger region than before – with all the help we need. We all share the pain that many are growing through with these public sessions weekly. We want to hear from you. Happy Orange Day!”
Five months ago today
Our residents were chased away
The flames drove our residents
North, South, East, and West
Since that time we’ve all done our best
Until, everyone is home we shall not rest
Five months ago today many motions of
Council have come our way
From Tipping Fees/Permits/Overlay
Fort McMurray and its residents will
Find our way.
Five months ago today, since then many
have returned and decided to stay
With assistance from all the agencies
Including all levels of governing bodies
Our focus will be to rebuild, ensuring no one gets left behind
at the end of the day.
To all those first responders that stayed and saved our region, including those from far away.
To the oil sand companies that sheltered, transported our residents, you truly are the heroes.
To see our schools back in operation and kids, they will need all our support.
To all those that make a positive difference, thank you so much.
Recovery is a challenge, while some don’t think it’s fast.
Our community energy will last.
Five months ago today, it’s still hard to believe it’s real.
I know over these months how a lot of people feel.
There’s one thing that’s for sure there’s never been a community
That had to endure this kind of event.
With the continued support from local, the province, and feds; we will not quit,
Until everyone is back in their own bed.
– Connect Weekly –