The Lambton Kent District School Board is deeply saddened by the latest news of the horrific discovery of 751 unmarked graves at the site of the former Marieval Indian Residential School in Saskatchewan.
The tragic news follows the discovery of the bodies of 215 children at the site of a former residential school in Kamloops, B.C. We recognize the significant and lasting impact of this news on survivors of residential schools, Indigenous students, staff, families, and the broader community. As provinces continue to investigate former sites of residential schools, we understand this will likely continue to unearth information that echo the devastating truths outlined in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report.
We acknowledge the ongoing intergenerational trauma and harm caused by the residential school system and settler colonialism. As an education system, we know that we play an important role in promoting and supporting Indigenous rights, histories, knowledge, cultures, and perspectives.
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. Read the Truth and Reconciliation Commission: Calls to Action and reflect on the responsibilities for educators and education workers to honour the requests of the survivors. Here is a link to the Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (Volume 4) – Missing Children and Unmarked Burials.
We know that many students, staff, and their families 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. Click here for information about summer mental health and well-being student supports. 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. The LKDSB believes student success is achieved through the shared responsibility of students, staff, families, community, and Indigenous partners. We encourage all LKDSB staff to take steps to learn the history and current realities and ongoing effects of residential schools and to take action. Have conversations with your families and friends, within and outside your classrooms, and further your education and understanding. Learn more and take action in the reconciliation process.
Additional resources to support learning about residential schools and Indigenous Education are 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