KPDSB schools continued to respond to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action throughout the 2019–2021 school year. Beginning in the Fall of 2019, students and staff recognized Powley Day on September 19th and Orange Shirt Day on September 30th. In addition to donning their orange shirts, students and staff learned more about residential schools through carefully selected activities and resources that ensured even our youngest learners could develop truthful understandings about this time in Canadian history. As the school year continued, we continued our learning during Treaties Recognition Week. The week opened and closed with ceremonies at Sioux North High School and Evergreen Public School. Throughout the week, our schools learned about treaty agreements, the importance of a promise and how early Canadian relationships were integral to Canada becoming a nation.
Winter brought a unique opportunity to KPDSB students, with students and staff welcoming the Canadian Geographic Atlas of Canada, Indigenous Peoples of Canada giant floor map to their schools. The map engaged children in learning about history and contemporary issues. While learning, students delved into Canadian history while at the same time asking questions that broadened their perspectives. The map travelled 2700 kilometres throughout January and February, visited 9 schools and hosted 45 classes!
While learning from home paused some activities, we were still able to participate in several activities on National Indigenous Day. Our educators led a Spring webinar where all staff could learn more about the Downie Wenjack fund, legacy schools, and ways to engage in reconciliation. Staff were encouraged to continue their learning while participating in online opportunities offered by organizations throughout Ontario and Canada.
As the school year drew to a close in June, we welcomed Metis author Jesse Thistle to speak about the non-fiction text From the Ashes. This live-streamed event brought the school year to a close while also prompting over 200 KPDSB staff to begin their summer by reading a thoughtful and inspiring text. Activities continued throughout July until Thistle joined us again on July 30th with a closing question and answer forum.
This fall, we are very pleased to welcome two new roles to help us to support our work in Reconciliation, including: our first Indigenous student trustee, Emma Gardner, from Dryden High School; and our Indigenous Education Lead, Len Gardner. We look forward to working together with them to hear the voice of our communities and continue to build upon the supports for our First Nation, Métis and Inuit students.