On Saturday, September 30th, Canadians will recognize the National Day for Truth & Reconciliation. Algoma District School Board (ADSB) students and staff acknowledged this special date on September 28th (as September 29th is a Professional Development day). Schools hosted Honour Walks on September 28th at their schools as did staff at the Education Centre. An Honour Walk is a public and visible way for our school communities to show their support of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action in Canada through an experiential learning opportunity, while promoting allyship within our schools.
ADSB staff, students and community members were encouraged to wear orange (shirts or ribbons, etc) on September 28th as well as on the 30th. Wearing orange is a simple yet impactful way to honour the children who survived the residential schools and to remember those who did not. This tradition of wearing orange began several years ago in Williams Lake, British Columbia, and was inspired by the experience of survivor Phyllis (Jack) Webstad, whose new orange shirt was taken from her on her first day at St. Joseph’s Mission Residential School. Her story has been shared and described in her book “Phyllis’s Orange Shirt” and can also be found on the ADSB website (www.adsb.on.ca) along with other resources.
Wearing orange and promoting the slogan, Every Child Matters, recognizes the harm the residential school system had on children’s sense of self-esteem and well-being and is also an affirmation of our commitment to reconciliation and raising awareness of the residential school experience, to ensure that we focus on our hope for a better future in which children are empowered to help each other.
Algoma District School Board acknowledges that while recognition on September 30th is important, the conversation about residential schools should not be limited to a single day or week. ADSB once again affirms our commitment to Indigenous partners and reconciliation. We continue to commit to valuing our partnerships with Indigenous communities and organizations, to building and strengthening these partnerships across our school communities and to ensuring that all students learn about Indigenous perspectives within the curriculum, including the history and impact of residential schools.
ADSB continues to engage the voices of First Nations, Métis and Inuit youth through the ADSB Northern Indigenous Youth Council (NIYC) to further understand and enhance their lived experiences within our schools. This year’s NIYC Chair Desirae Schell-Migwans spoke to and supported her school community of Superior Heights as they engaged in their Honour Walk.