By Justin Seward
Orange Shirt Day took on a whole new meaning this year.
While Prairie Rose Public Schools decided to take a non-operational day on the first national Truth and Reconciliation Day holiday on Sept. 30, the school division’s FMNI (First Nations, Metis, Native and Inuit) co-ordinator Carol Carlson has seen many teachers reach out to begin the school year.
“ (A) Lot of great speakers have been acquired and are presenting to students in classrooms,” said Carlson.
“Beyond that, there’s a lot of things teachers are doing that are related to the curriculum of course. But they’re actually really embracing the Truth and Reconciliation Day. I’m pretty happy about how this has been embraced and how they’ve been working hard to make sure kids understand the meaning of Truth and Reconciliation Day and there’s lots of activities to support that in every classroom right from Kindergarten through to Grade 12.”
The focus still remains on remembering the residential school survivor’s families.
“I think the decision for Prairie Rose was to make sure that we were being mindful of the calls to action I guess,” she said.
“You know there was calls to action for the day to be recognized and so we wanted to honour that for families.”
Resources were being made to available to students all week leading up to Truth and Reconciliation Day.
“As a person put in this role this year, I took it upon myself to find some really excellent resources that are available and sent them out to the teachers and to the school leaders in the district,” said Carlson.
“I’ve been invited to participate in quite a few different things that have happening in the schools both from locally available individuals and from different types of activities that are accessed virtually. So, it’s been really great.”
Carlson asked all the schools to participate in a heart garden on Sept. 29 with messages in support of Truth and Reconciliation that were displayed outside the school division’s office.
“So that’s a way of commemorating and remembering residential school survivors and their families,” she said.
“It’s been really exciting to see them participate and learn at the same time.”
Carlson added, “I think we have families that recognize this as the appropriate path forward and really just making sure we recognize the importance of the day.”
MP Glen Motz opened his statement by saying, “ As Justice Sinclair said: “Reconciliation is not an Aboriginal Problem. It is a Canadian problem. It involves all of us.”
“While the revelation of mass graves at residential schools confirmed what survivors and their families already suspected, it was an eye-opening moment for many Canadians,” said Motz.
“September 30 is a day in which all Canadians can learn the painful truth about this dark chapter in Canada’s past – and the present realities for many Indigenous Canadians. Today is the beginning towards ending the ignorance. We cannot move forward if we do not move forward together. Today, we must acknowledge and address our legacy in Canada and advance reconciliation through the Call to Action. I hope the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is another step forward on the long journey to healing, developing stronger communities, creating empathy, and addressing inequities.”