By Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The Prince Albert Catholic School Division plans to add more learning opportunities for students when the next Orange Shirt Day arrives, but what that will look like remains up for discussion.

School board trustees are united in their desire to increase the number of community partnerships on Orange Shirt day, but education director Lorel Trumier said its difficult since Sept. 30 in a federal statutory holiday.

“We did debate in the early years what we were going to do,” Trumier said. “We felt as a group at the time, our trustees and our staff, that this was important for educational purposes because how can we have that day and not educate people about what it was?

“Now the tides might be shifting, and you heard the conversation. There are many more events occurring in our community that will also give opportunities for educational purposes, so we will see where this takes us.”

Trustees began discussing the issue because the 2023 Orange Shirt Day will fall on a Saturday. The school division hopes to keep schools open, allowing students and their families to attend community activities or a special Mass for the event.

Trustees plan to revisit the discussion at their next meeting to allow time to develop more ideas. They also plan to discuss whether schools will always remain open for future Orange Shirt Days.

“It’s important that everyone sees it’s important,” Trumier said. “Now we just need to land on what, philosophically, we would like to support.”

Trustee Chrissy Halliday started the discussion about keeping schools open next year. School divisions have the option to close and have a professional development day, something the Catholic School Division chose not to do this year.

“(It’s) just something to keep in mind for next year’s calendar,” Halliday said.

“Look at (hosting) an event, and I will stand behind that decision if I get questions.”

Trumier initially suggested trying to fit it into the calendar as a closure day. Trustee Darryl Sande offered the idea of taking a leadership role and having schools open their doors to the community for a special celebration.