On September 30, 2021, Canada will recognize its first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation that honours the lost children and the survivors of residential schools, their families, and communities. September 30 will be a day of remembrance and deep reflection for Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians as we engage in the truths of colonial practices and the harmful impact they have had on Indigenous peoples. We recognize that this day will be difficult for Indigenous communities as they continue to share experiences and family stories about the ongoing impact of the residential school system.
The Province of B.C. recognizes the importance of honouring a day for Truth and Reconciliation. Recognizing September 30 this year is an interim measure while the Province begins to engage with Indigenous partners and the business and labour communities to determine the most appropriate way to commemorate this day going forward. Our schools will be closed for this day of recognition to allow our students, staff, and communities to participate in events related to our collective commitment to truth and reconciliation. Flags at all schools and school district facilities across Coast Mountains School District 82 will be lowered to half mast to mark the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation (flags will be lowered on the afternoon of September 29 and raised again on the morning of October 1).
During the week of September 27 to October 1, students and staff will have the opportunity to participate in activities and experiences to help their journey along the path of Truth and Reconciliation.
We all have a responsibility on National Truth and Reconciliation Day, and every day, to take time to listen with open hearts and open minds to learn from the survivors of residential schools, and to be committed to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s findings and resulting Calls to Action. We encourage all in our communities to reflect on the Commission’s findings, read the 94 Calls to Action, and seek personal and professional actions for reconciliation.
Coast Mountains School District 82 is committed to reconciliation through honouring the voices of survivors and their families by transforming district culture with a continued focus on the inequity of outcomes for Indigenous learners, systemic discrimination, and marginalization.
On September 29, Coast Mountains School District 82 will recognize Orange Shirt Day. Our schools will mark the occasion in a variety of ways and schools will be filled with orange shirts, a symbol of the residential school survivors’ experiences and specifically the experience of Phyllis Webstad, who attended St Joseph’s Residential school by Williams Lake. Orange Shirt day is not just a learning opportunity for students, but for our whole community. There are many resources to help you increase your understandings of Orange Shirt Day, Residential Schools, Reconciliation and Indigenous Ways of Knowing. We encourage everyone to check their community for local events taking place.
Events were designed to commemorate the residential school experience, to witness and honour the healing journey of the survivors and their families, and to commit to the ongoing process of reconciliation. Chief Justice Murray Sinclair challenged all to keep the reconciliation process alive, as a result of the realization that every former student had similar stories (visit https://www.orangeshirtday.org/about-us.html for more information).
School District 82 has been working with Indigenous communities and our staff to help increase the opportunities for all students to learn these valuable teachings. Here are some great resources for you and your family:
- National Day for Truth and Reconciliation – Canada.ca
- Phyllis Webstad Orange Shirt Day Video
- Brief History of Canada and the Residential School System
- Talking to Kids About Residential Schools | Monique Gray Smith – YouTube
- Orange Shirt Day: A Day of Remembrance, Memory Bags, and Anchor Books | readingpowergear (wordpress.com)
- The word Indigenous – explained l CBC Kids News – YouTube
- Truth and Reconciliation Week – NCTR