On May 31, the Lambton Kent District School Board lowered its flags to half-mast to honour the lives of the 215 children whose remains were found at the Kamloops Indian Residential School.
We recognize that the tragic news of the discovery of the bodies of 215 children at the site of a former residential school has a significant and lasting impact on survivors of residential schools, Indigenous students, staff, families, and the broader community. We acknowledge the ongoing intergenerational trauma and harm caused by the residential school system and settler colonialism.
On Thursday, June 3, LKDSB invites students and staff to participate in an Orange Shirt Day. Students and staff are encouraged to wear orange to honour the survivors of residential schools, as well as those children and young people who never returned home.
In support of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission: Calls to Action as they relate to education, as well as the LKDSB's Strategic Priority of “Inclusive Diversity: Champion anti-oppressive education," the LKDSB remains committed to working with and alongside local Indigenous communities to promote learning and understanding about the residential school system and the ongoing impact on First Nations, Métis, and Inuit people in Canada. At the LKDSB, we understand our role in promoting and supporting Indigenous rights, histories, knowledge, culture, and perspectives. We encourage staff, students, and the community to further increase understanding about the historic and ongoing impacts of the residential school system. As stated by the Honourable Justice Murray Sinclair, Chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, education is key to reconciliation: “Education got us into this mess and education will get us out of it," he said.
We know that many students may be experiencing difficulty at this time and may have different responses to the release of this new information. Within the current circumstances of remote learning, please be assured that supports are available, and we will be responsive to individual needs. Should you have any concerns about personal or a student's well-being, we encourage you to contact your school directly to learn more about student supports that are available. Staff members are encouraged to access the Employee and Family Assistance Program.
As a reminder, June is National Indigenous History Month and a time for all Canadians to reflect upon and learn the history, sacrifices, cultures, contributions, and strength of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis people. LKDSB will be recognizing June 21 as National Indigenous Peoples Day. On this day and throughout the year, we honour the history, heritage, and diversity of Indigenous peoples in Canada. The LKDSB believes student success is achieved through the shared responsibility of students, staff, families, community, and Indigenous partners.
Additional resources to support learning about residential schools and Indigenous Education is available at https://www.lkdsb.net/Board/ind-edu/Pages/default.aspx
A National Indian Residential School Crisis Line has been set up to provide support for former residential school students and those affected. To access emotional and crisis referral services contact the 24-Hour National Crisis Line at 1-866-925-4419.
Thank you for supporting safe, caring, and inclusive learning environments for all of students and staff members.
Director of Education