Supporting Those Impacted by Tragic Residential School Legacy

Posted On Wednesday June 02, 2021

By Rhonda Kershaw, Board Chair

June 2, 2021

The Kamloops-Thompson Board of Education sends its deepest sympathies to Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc and all Indigenous Communities impacted by the finding of 215 children’s bodies buried on the grounds of the former residential school in Kamloops.

Confirmation of the residential school system’s historical atrocities last week is reverberating through our students, their families, our staff, our communities, and our country. Through the work of the Commission for Truth and Reconciliation many survivors’ stories have been heard, but this physical evidence of the atrocities of residential schools brings to the forefront the extensive work that is still required to right the wrongs of the past.

The school district honours the First Peoples’ principles of learning and Aboriginal worldview and perspectives. We are committed to ensuring Aboriginal students see themselves and their culture reflected in our schools and classrooms. All students moving forward must be given the information and knowledge necessary to appreciate and understand the long-standing historical contributions of Indigenous people and the local Secwepemc nation, as well as the truth of our history. It is our hope that a deeper understanding for all students will begin to facilitate reconciliation on a greater scale and deeper level.

In the coming days and weeks, the Aboriginal Education Council, comprised of local education Band managers, local Indigenous partner organizations, Board of Education representatives and District senior staff will come together to provide input on how the school district can best support all those impacted.

To honour those who suffer trauma and harm because of residential schools, and their families and communities who are mourning, all schools and District buildings will lower the Canadian flag to half-mast, as a sign of respect.

Throughout the week, staff and students will be asked to wear orange shirts as an acknowledgement of the trauma and harm caused by residential schools.

The tragic legacy of residential schools continues to impact communities and our country. The Board of Education cannot pretend to understand the depth of sadness being experienced by so many at this time, but we do grieve with those affected and we are committed to working in partnership towards a better future through reconciliation.

In the words of the Truth and Reconciliation Report:

“Getting to the truth was hard but getting to reconciliation will be harder. It requires that the paternalistic and racist foundations of the residential school system be rejected as the basis for an ongoing relationship. Reconciliation requires that a new vision, based on a commitment to mutual respect, be developed”.

This column appeared in Kamloops This Week: View from SD73 on June 2, 2021

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