Reflections from the National Day of Truth & Reconciliation

Posted On Monday October 04, 2021

Dear Parents and Caregivers:

As October begins, we reflect on our experiences leading up to the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation (September 30). On Monday, September 27, staff engaged in professional learning about Truth and Reconciliation and throughout the week teachers taught age-appropriate lessons supported by the District Aboriginal Education Department. On Wednesday, September 29, principals and facility supervisors lowered flags to half-mast to honour residential school survivors and children who did not return home, and to prepare for our first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. Ms. Katrina Sewell, principal of A.E. Perry Elementary, recounts her story of inspiring professional learning.

Truth and Reconciliation

AE Perry Elementary’s Aboriginal Education Workers (AEWs), Ms. Kelsey Jules and Ms. Rae Bennett worked with Mr. Peter Michel, District Aboriginal Youth and Family Consultant, to lead A.E. Perry staff in a Kairos Blanket Exercise. Katrina emphasized that the emotional experience of learning firsthand about truths that may have been previously unknown and taking part in the physical, dramatic living of these truths enabled staff collectively to feel the impact of the tragic history of residential schools. Ms. Sewell also highlighted that she found that District Principal Mike Bowden’s lessons about territory acknowledgments were appreciated by her staff. She stated, “It was powerful to think about a land acknowledgment ‘as reconciliation’ when it comes from the heart and demonstrates an effort to understand the history and relevance of the land of the First Peoples. It was an opportunity to think again about when we say land acknowledgements and how we use them. The whole day was a success and I was grateful to have this time to prepare for our first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.”

Communicable Disease Prevention Plan and COVID-19

We are pleased that Interior Health will resume posting potential COVID-19 exposures at schools on their website.They will not share numbers of positive cases per school or differentiate between staff/student cases. While parents have asked school administrators to send school community notifications each time there is a potential exposure, Dr. Mema, Interior Health Chief Medical Health Officer has directed against this practice because Interior Health notifications are sent to those who are directly impacted. Therefore, sending notifications of potential exposures to everyone in a school community who are not directly impacted only serves to cause unnecessary anxiety.

On October 1, 2021, the Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry announced that all students from K-12 will be required to wear masks in school as of Monday, October 4, 2021. The mask mandate will continue until further notice. This decision was made by the Ministries of Education and Health, and it is directly connected to the rising numbers of cases in the K-3 age group. While the number of potential exposures to COVID-19 in our schools has increased, Interior Health’s contact tracing confirms that the greatest risk of transmission is during activities taking place outside of school. The Ministry of Education has updated the Provincial COVID-19 Communicable Disease Guidelines for K-12 Settings with this change in measures for schools.

Ensuring students, staff, and visitors stay home when they are sick continues to be one of the most effective personal measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 from our communities into our schools. After vaccinations, completing and following the directions of the Daily Health Check is one of the strongest individual measures each of us can take to limit COVID-19 in our schools.

Thank you for your ongoing support of our work as a district community in Truth and Reconciliation. We value your dedication and passion, and we look forward to more inspiring stories as we co-create a hopeful future, together, for all students and staff.

 

Rhonda Nixon, PhD

Superintendent

 

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