Parent Resource Page

Students

Supporting parents and families with information about resources and services

SD73 Communicable Disease Prevention Plan

Resources for Parents

Enhanced Safety Measures for K-12

On February 4, 2021, the Ministry of Education announced changes to the health and safety requirements in place for schools. The updates include:
  1. Prevent crowding at all times; pay particular attention at the start and end of day.
  2. Avoid close face-to-face contact whenever possible.
  3. Assign staff to a specific cohort whenever possible.
  4. Stagger recess, lunch, and class transition times whenever possible.
  5. Ensure that the use of masks does not reduce or replace practicing physical distancing and other prevention measures, for both students and staff.
  6. Ensure prevention measures are in place in staff-only areas, including break and meeting rooms.
  7. Implement music classes according to the British Columbia Music Educators’ Association and the Coalition for Music Education in British Columbia Guidance for Music Classes.
  8. Ensure physical activity is delivered in line with the guidance in this document.

For your information, the following documents have been updated: 

Interactive Wellness Tool

Ask Kelty Mental Health

We know how tricky it can be for families to navigate the mental health system. Hopefully the information in the new Ask Kelty Mental Health toocan be helpful when looking for supports and services in BC for children and youth.

With the help of FamilySmart parent peer support workers at the Kelty Centre, this tool offers suggestions about where to go and what to expect when looking for support options.

You can type your question into the tool, and find answers to commonly asked questions families have such as:

  • My child needs help now, what can I do?
  • How do I find counselling?
  • What can I do while my child is on a waitlist?
  • I am struggling to cope with my child’s illness. Where can I get support?

 

Parenting Through the Pandemic

Parenting Skills for the Pandemic

We know parents and children need support in coping with the pandemic. We hope these recorded parent outreach sessions can offer some insight and comfort. Katherine Gulley is a private counsellor, and a former clinician at Child and Youth Mental Health. These are sessions she has held for the District beginning in April, 2020. 

2020-2021 School year

  • Support for parents, held April 13, discussed  ways to regulate well-being in navigating the stressors of the pandemic environment and the additional demands of supporting children's learning.

8 Tips to Support Grade 1 Readers at Home

8 Tips to Support Grade 1 Readers at Home
Ministry of Education Resources for Parents 

Emergency Management BC:

Educational Videos with Questions from Kids:

Classroom Learning Activities:


Learn more about the WE Well-being program: https://www.we.org/en-CA/get-doing/activities-and-resources/wellbeing/

Learn more about the WE Schools @home program: https://www.we.org/en-CA/our-work/we-schools/at-home/

EASE at Home offers helpful tips for parents, like how to teach children calming breathing techniques or use structured games like scavenger hunts to build routine in a way that’s fun: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/health/managing-your-health/mental-health-substance-use/child-teen-mental-health/ease

The Ministry of Education’s Erase strategy was expanded to include mental health: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/erase

For more information about available child and mental-health supports and contact information, visit: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/health/managing-your-health/mental-health-substance-use/child-teen-mental-health/mental-health-intake-clinics

The Ministry of Education has posted Keep Learning - a resource for families with ideas for everyday educational activities, links to free learning resources. There is information about how to help children learn and ensure their wellbeing while they’re at home. Even so, the ministry reminds us that teachers and schools still have primary responsibility for continuous learning.

Here is the news release: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2020EDUC0026-000580

Here is a letter to parents and caregivers from Education Minister Fleming and the BCCPAC https://www.gov.bc.ca/safeschools

SD73 Suggested Wellness Links for Parents  

Emergency Assistance

  • If you, or someone you care about, are feeling overwhelmed or feel like you want to harm yourself or others call  9-1-1  

  • BC Suicide Line: If you are considering suicide or are concerned about someone who may be, please call 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433) or visit the Crisis Centre FAQ page.

  • Kids Help Phone - Immediate support and information and if necessary referrals to community services agencies

  • KUU-US Crisis Line Society (24Hour Crisis Line for Aboriginal Adults/Elders & Youth) Toll free 1.800.588.8717

  • Native Youth Crisis Hotline (24 hour crisis line available throughout Canada) 1.877.209.1266

  • ERASE- Expect Respect and a Safe Education Reporting Tool

  • Ministry of Children and Family Development

    • If you think a child or youth under 19 years of age is being abused or neglected, you have the legal duty to report your concern to a child welfare worker. Phone 1-800- 663-9122 at any time of the day or night

Health and Wellness

Financial Resources

Ministry of Education

Parenting Support Resources

Recommended Apps 

SD73 Resources for Parents   

Easing Your Children’s Anxiety

Anxiety, worry and concern are all normal human emotions and it is natural for them to increase during times of uncertainty. Earlier this year, the Ministry of Children and Family Development created a new teacher education program to provide age appropriate tools for children and anxiety management called EASE - Everyday Anxiety Strategies for Teachers. It has been very well received throughout the province and in this district.

In response to the current situation and with parents and guardians so involved as active daily supporters of kids in our more socially isolated COVID 19 world, the EASE materials have been adapted for your use.
These fun, easy activities and resource links are designed to be helpful in providing some ideas to support the emotional well-being of all children. You can try one idea or engage in the full set and they are beneficial to every child.
Go here to access either the Kindergarten to Grade 3 ideas or Grade 4 to Grade 7 resources.

SD73 has created this companion resource of some of our teachers reading stories that help kids understand their worries, feelings, and thoughts to go along with the EASE resources. 

Our staff are working hard to collect, vet and curate resources for parents. Here is an Elementary Parents Support Resource site that you can subscribe to, and receive updates as they are posted.

And here is a Secondary Parents Support Resource site, that you can subscribe to, and receive updates as they are posted. 

We are including this link in two places -- you will see it under support for children and teens and we are including it here too, because it is prepared by SD73 staff - We know everyone is affected, and the way adults respond will affect the way children feel about what is happening. Here is some helpful info. 

Support for Children and Teens 

Virtual Town Hall Meeting - Livestreamed Session Link

Feb. 12, 2021 -We have posted links to the Keeping Schools Safe - FAQs. You will find the virtual Town Hall session with Interior Health, and the media Zoom Q&A following the session. This is also where the FAQ containing all the questions from email and the Facebook and YouTube chats will soon be posted. 

Sept. 17, 2021 - Superintendent's Update

Dear Parents and Caregivers:

Last week, we appreciated seeing new and old friends and being back into a routine. While it will take time to settle, it is always helpful to remind ourselves of why we do this work. Each week, I look forward to sharing inspiring stories from our schools.

Clearwater Secondary

This week, I spoke with Darren Coates, principal of Clearwater Secondary School, and he shared how “one of the biggest changes this year compared to last year is not being in cohorts” because it enabled him to provide additional programming and services to support students. “I have always valued the one-to-one reading mentorship program that we have done, which involved grades 11 and 12 students reading with grade 8 students.” The program had stopped last year because students were in cohorts. “Seeing the program back in action this year is inspiring because I know that there are so many benefits—pre- and post- reading results show improvement, and it builds social connections between different grade levels.” Darren also shared a second moment of inspiration, which was focused on CSS’s food program. “Last year, the cafeteria was open to half of the school (Gr. 10, 11, 12) and the others (Gr. 8, 9) had boxed snacks.” He explained, “Being able to open the cafeteria for everyone has created connections not only between different grade levels but it has allowed senior students to serve junior students.” It also gives him an opportunity to meet his students and to show that he cares.

COVID-19

Last year, COVID cases were reported as they happened through the Interior Health website, school community notifications, and Superintendent Updates. Interior Health has stopped the community-wide notification practice and has directed school districts to do the same. Broad, school-wide notification is not something that is done as a usual practice in communicable illness containment. Given that there is a high rate of vaccination for COVID in BC, the expectation is that COVID will be treated like other communicable illnesses.

The other change this year is that whole classes are unlikely to be required to self-isolate. Interior Health continues to prioritize contact tracing in schools, and their advice about whether to self-monitor or self-isolate depends on a range of factors, including whether the person has been partially or fully vaccinated. Interior Health will continue to notify students, parents/guardians, and staff when they are required to self-isolate or self-monitor if they are found to be close contacts of a positive case.

We continue to implement our COVID protocols with vigilance. Our SD73 Communicable Disease Prevention Plan has information about our protocols, which are based on Ministries of Health and Education guidelines: Provincial Communicable Disease Guidelines for K to 12 Settings, BCCDC COVID-19 Public Health Communicable Disease Guidance for K to 12 School Settings and B.C.’s K to 12 Education Recovery Plan.

In addition to our District Communicable Disease Prevention Plan, every school has posted their school communicable disease prevention plans on their websites.

Interior Health vaccination clinics in secondary schools are listed here.

Thank you for being partners in making our schools places of inspiration for our students, staff, and families. I look forward to hearing and sharing more stories next week as we take on the new learning and opportunities that continue to inspire us.

​​​​​​​Rhonda Nixon, PhD
Superintendent

 Updates
 
September 2021
September 10, 2021 - Back to School Stories

Dear Parents and Caregivers:

This has been an exciting week of greeting our students, staff, parents, and caregivers. The positive energy was evident as we entered into a “near normal” school and work day.  We are continuing to share responsibility for working together as partners in taking safety precautions (daily checklist, stay home when sick, wash hands, cover mouth, wear a mask) while we return to usual school programming and activities.

WHAT WE HEARD: BACK-TO-SCHOOL STORIES

This week, we welcomed nearly 15,000 students and 2,000 employees across 27,000 km in Chase, Barriere, Heffley Creek, Pinantan, Logan Lake, Westwold, Savona, Sun Peaks, Clearwater, Vavenby, Blue River, and Kamloops. 

We asked: What was the best part of coming back to school and work?  We heard back from our students and staff in all of our communities and put their statements into a Wordle:

Back to School Stories

We can see how much students and staff appreciated seeing old friends, making new friends, seeing teachers, learning, playing, having routines, being part of a school community, and that it was the “best” to be “back”.

COVID-19 Protocols 

We will continue to be vigilant about how we implement our COVID protocols. Our SD73 Communicable Disease Prevention Plan has information about our protocols, which are based on Ministries of Health and Education guidelines:  Provincial Communicable Disease Guidelines for K to 12 Settings, BCCDC COVID-19 Public Health Communicable Disease Guidance for K to 12 School Settings and B.C.’s K to 12 Education Recovery Plan.  

In addition to our District Plan, every school has posted their communicable disease prevention plans on their websites. We continue to respond to questions as we live our plan, so we have developed Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) here. 

Finally, our school district has worked with Interior Health to determine locations for vaccination clinics in secondary schools for mid-September. Information is forthcoming from these schools.

Thank you for working together to make this a wonderful start to our 2021-2022 school year.

Rhonda Nixon, PhD
Superintendent

September 3, 2021

Dear Parents:

We are approaching the 2021-2022 school year with great optimism and hope. We anticipate that our students will be able to participate in what promises to be a more typical school year with regular and option programming and a gradual return to extracurricular activities, and events such as field trips and assemblies.

COVID-19 Protocols

On September 1st, we received three recommendations from Interior Health:

  • Indoor assemblies are limited to 50 people or two classes, in a single space.
    • Visitors entering the school should be limited to those supporting activities that are of benefit to student learning and wellbeing (e.g. meal program volunteers).
    • Extracurricular school sports should follow the Interior Health Order for Gatherings & Events, where sports and tournaments are allowed. Spectators should be limited to 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors.

Our guidelines parallel these recommendations except that we have chosen not to have public spectators at events at this time. We are intentionally taking a cautious approach to such activities to assist everyone to adjust to school start up. While we know that returning to “near normal” school opportunities contributes to a positive school culture and climate, we also know that to maintain access to these events, it is important that all community members recognize that there is a shared responsibility to keep one another safe and healthy.

In my last update, I indicated that we were meeting with school and district leaders on August 30th and then working together to compose our SD73 Communicable Disease Prevention Plan . As required by all school jurisdictions in BC, we have participated in multiple provincial collaboration opportunities to articulate a common direction with our district’s communicable disease prevention plans using the following resources:Provincial Communicable Disease Guidelines for K to 12 Settings, BCCDC COVID-19 Public Health Communicable Disease Guidance for K to 12 School Settings and B.C.’s K to 12 Education Recovery Plan. We have also had the benefit of working collaboratively with Interior Health to ask questions and to refine our plan. Additionally, Interior Health will continue notifying individuals who test positive or who are close contacts of a positive case.

We pride ourselves on responding to your feedback as we live our plan, so we have developed Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) at sd73.bc.ca. Each school is developing a site specific Communicable Disease Prevention Plan related to their contexts which will be posted to school websites. Principals will be sharing school plans via email with their school community prior to

September 7th. In addition, schools will be providing parents and guardians an updated student Daily Health Check that parents are asked to complete with their child every morning.

Until students return on September 7th, please take good care and know that you are important, missed, and much needed as a partner in a safe return to school.

Rhonda Nixon, PhD

Superintendent

 August 2021

Aug 27, 2021 - Friday Update from SD73

Dear Parents and Caregivers, 

As we embrace the final days of summer and prepare for school start-up, I look forward to connecting with you through a Superintendent’s Update every Friday to address timely topics of importance to our community. This week our focus has been on new COVID-19 guidelines for schools, addressing Truth and Reconciliation, and continuing to monitor the wildfire situation. 

COVID-19 Protocols.

We have now received the Provincial Communicable Disease Guidelines for K to 12 SettingsBCCDC COVID-19 Public Health Communicable Disease Guidance for K to 12 School Settings, and B.C.’s K to 12 Education Recovery Plan.  Based on these guidelines, we have co-developed our SD73 Communicable Disease Prevention Plan, which will be available this upcoming week as our staff at district and school levels work together to ensure a safe school start-up. General guidelines for back-to-school are available here

Truth and Reconciliation.

Given the devastating news of the discovery of 215 children’s bodies at the Kamloops Indian Residential School, school and district leaders engaged in professional learning on August 26. Phyllis Webstad, a residential school survivor and the creator of Orange Shirt Day, and Monique Gray Smith, an Indigenous author, and speaker on Trauma-informed Practice spoke about how the District can continue to move forward with Truth and Reconciliation.  

Fire Response.

Throughout July and August, the District’s Emergency Response Committee activated its protocols when Evacuation Alerts or Orders were issued for several of our communities, which also affected the families attending those eleven schools. My heart goes out to those staff and families who work or attend Westwold and who lost their homes or who were impacted by the fires. District and school staff continue to support those individuals impacted. We will continue to monitor the situation, to work together to ensure the safety of students and staff, and to attend to air quality, should it become an issue. 

In my role as the new superintendent, I marvel at the resiliency of the people in our rural and urban communities. This has been evident in the way that you have helped each other to persist through the challenges of the past year, which I witnessed first-hand during this summer’s intense wildfire season. There is no doubt that we are stronger together as a community, and I look forward to continuing to get to know you throughout the school year.

I will share further information with you in my next Friday update. In the meantime, stay safe and enjoy the last days of summer. 

Rhonda Nixon, PhD

Superintendent


Parent Resources – General

English Language Learners Resources
Street Smart Safety Tips

Cybertip.ca Alerts - Sign up to get notifications

Cybertip.ca Alerts are notifications sent out to inform the public of concerning technology trends and new resources designed to increase children’s personal safety. As Canada’s national tipline for reporting the online sexual exploitation of children, the information reported to Cybertip.ca enables us to identify the online risks children and youth are facing. Recognizing that it can be difficult to keep up with technology, signing up for these alerts provides you with important information to help keep your family safe while using the various popular platforms on the Internet.

Sign-up here to receive Cybertip.ca Alerts notifications.

Download the Foundry App to Access Support and Services  

Foundry App Helps Youth Facing Unprecedented Stress 

Mental health and substance use services and supports are faster and easier to access for youth and their caregivers across BC with the new FoundryBC app.

It was co-created by youth for youth for 12-24 year-olds. Services offered include drop-in and scheduled counselling, primary care, peer support and group sessions.

For more info, read the Provincial Government news release, New Foundry BC app transforms access to vital services for youth, caregivers.

To learn more about the Foundry app, visit the Foundry web portal.  

POPARD - Transition to Kindergarten

POPARD information and support for children on the spectrum as they transition to kindergarten.

Jackie’s Story Part 2 – Preparing for Kindergarten

Jackie’s Story Part 3 – Strategies for Successful Kindergarten Year

SOGI

Kamloops SOGI Services

Safe Spaces – Interior Community Services Program Information

Safe Spaces is available in both Kamloops & Merritt and provides:

  • Drop-in and individual appointments
  • Weekly peer group meetings; workshops for community and school groups on homophobia and heterosexism
  • E-mail outreach and support
  • Resource and lending library
  • Referrals to other services

Who Is Eligible?

Safe Spaces is open to people 12-26 years of age.

How to Refer: No referral is required, we are an open door to the community.

Contact Information

Staff Cell: 250-371-3086 (both locations)
Kamloops Office: 250-554-3134
Merritt Office: 250-378-9676

Please call to get program locations

PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender People)

Kamloops Chapter
Contacts: Jim and Grace Williams
Phone: 1-888-530-6777 ext. 579 (toll free)
Email: PFLAG

Kamloops Pride

Facebook: @KamloopsPride

Orchard Walk Medical Clinic

Supporting Team Excellence with Patients Society (STEPS) at the Orchard Walk Medical Clinic provides general family practice, primary care access and services for LGBTQ2S. As well, Dr. Harvey provides gender-affirming care and general primary care for the LGBTQ2S community.

Phone: (250) 828-8080

 Understanding ADHD - Video Presentation

In this presentation (view here), Dan shifts mindsets from the symptom focused Outside-In Perspective; to the Inside-Out Perspective which provides a simple and useable understanding of ADHD brain function. The ADHD Inside Out Framework that he has developed allows participants to understand and respond to ADHD properly; what’s more, it explains ADHD in simple terms, which makes the Framework useable by anyone who encounters ADHD.

Dan offers strategies to help your student succeed in an educational setting.

Dan Duncan is an ADHD Coach/Consultant who coaches privately through his business ADHD Inside Out. He works in association with the BC Interior ADHD Clinic, and UBCO as an academic strategist.

Dan was diagnosed with ADHD in his 30’s. Together with his wife, he raised two sons - one has ADHD, the other does not. The son with ADHD is in his first year of full-time teaching as a grade 9 teacher, while his other son is completing a Masters degree.

Math Moments - Strategies for Parents

SD73 Updates

 Feb. 26, 2021 - Dress code Incident at NorKam

Dear Parents;

I expect you are aware of an issue that occurred at NorKam Secondary School earlier this week.

We are reviewing this incident and are concerned about the allegations and treat them very seriously. This incident, like all incidents involving our students, is a matter that we cannot discuss publicly.

Separately, but timely in regard to the issue at NorKam, is the review of the dress code Administrative Procedure.

I want parents to be aware that our Administrative Procedure regarding dress codes has been under review for the past three months. We have reached a point where we have had a draft of a new district administrative procedure that is being reviewed by our senior staff. Over the next two weeks, it will be discussed and reviewed at the board office, then a draft will be circulated to all of our partner groups for their input.

Once a new Administrative Procedure is in place schools will then be directed to make their dress codes consistent with the new School District Administrative Procedure.

Terrence S Sullivan, Ph. D
Superintendent  

Rekindled Trauma - Former Kamloops Residential School

June 2, 2021 - Here are some useful tips for parents and educators about how to talk to students and children about the recent confirmation of the remains of 215 children found buried at the former Kamloops residential school. Some of what follows is information from the North American Centre for Threat Assessment and Trauma Response (NACTATR), which among other things, is dedicated to preventing and reducing violence and trauma in North America through training, tools and technology. 

We would like parents and guardians to know, too, that along with Sherri Mohoruk, from Safer Schools Together, NACTATR Executive Director J. Kevin Cameron will be a guest at the June 3, 2021 District School Leaders' meeting. 

We will continue to post resources here, as they become available. 

The Unfolding Events at the Former Kamloops Residential School (NACTATR)
This information has been provided by the North American Centre for Threat Assessment and Trauma Response (NACTATR), which among other things, is dedicated to preventing and reducing violence and trauma in North America using training, tools and technology.

“During this time of profound traumatic reliving for Indigenous People in every Nation in Canada surely the rest of us can be still and listen to the cries from the dust and lift up the arms that hang down and steady the gaze of one with a broken heart with the sound of our voices that simply say “I believe you”, “I care” and “I am beginning to see these things more clearly now”.

J. Kevin Cameron, Executive Director, NACTATR

The greatest fear for any victim of abuse is that, if they tell, they will not be believed. The other is that, even if they are believed, no one will care. How immense is it when that feeling has been the lot of an entire people?

It is clear that trauma is stored in the body and very much at the cellular level, including the burdens of intergenerational trauma. The bodies of over two hundred children found in the grounds of the former Kamloops Residential School in Tk'emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation has magnified that burden as the past and much of the unresolved present now converge.

Too many Non-Indigenous Canadians have not applied themselves to understanding the true history of Indigenous People and First Nations upon these lands. Many assume that residential schools were schools. In fact, they did not uphold safe and caring learning environments. Residential schools began the dissolution of the family unit and the confounding of natural law where parents and communities of parents raise a child.  

In a way, every Indigenous person, whether they were in a residential school or not, is a residential school survivor. Why these schools were constructed and what happened within them is symbolic of the intense racism of “that day” and the ongoing systemic racism of “our time”. The true character of a so-called modern nation should be measured in the treatment of their Indigenous people. We cannot all move from this land, but we should be moved by the bright and penetrating light shone upon this crumbling cornerstone of Canadian society.

One of the basest comments made by some is to say to an immigrant to Canada: “go back to where you came from”. This comment often comes from a white citizen who is making the comment with little insight into where they themselves “came from”. Some will say, “well other cultures are racist to us”. It is true that the scourge of racism throughout the world is not limited to whites as the protagonist, but in North America “white is the colour of the canvas that racism is painted upon”.

It is admirable for Canadians to keep the peace in other countries but not while failing to keep the peace and promises in this one. During this time of profound traumatic reliving for Indigenous People in every Nation in Canada surely the rest of us can be still and listen to the cries from the dust and lift up the arms that hang down and steady the gaze of one with a broken heart with the sound of our voices that simply say “I believe you”, “I care” and “I am beginning to see these things more clearly now”.

We must understand that trauma does not necessarily create new dynamics in human systems, it just intensifies already existing symptoms. Therefore, this is not a time for us to seek out the positives in the hope of lessening anyone’s pain, it is a time to be present and to listen. Even for those who have not experienced it, every parent or caregiver should be able to imagine the bitterness of what it may be like to lose a child. But how bitter? Only those who have experienced it can tell.

Our foundation for providing support from a crisis and trauma response perspective should begin by ensuring physically safe environments for emotionally safe connections. Like any grieving family there needs to be a time of coming together. For many Non-Indigenous people, we must sometimes wait to be invited in if we have not yet proven to be an ally. Indigenous individuals and families who do reach out should be willingly wrapped around by all support services (Indigenous and Non-Indigenous) with the goal, as appropriate, to connect them with members of their families and communities.

During traumatic aftermath some people need to talk and others do not. Secure and caring attachments will lower anxiety more than any words. Be ok with intensified emotions that will build over the days to follow. The fields of Violence Threat Risk Assessment (VTRA) and Crisis/Trauma Response are inseparably connected.

From time to time there may be those who lack compassion or insight who may attempt to cause further emotional harm to those who are grieving. As such, local crisis response teams should prepare, as necessary, for “Whole Community” interventions to support Indigenous and Non-Indigenous children, youth and families in processing the many implications and effects of the untold stories of these lost members of the human family.

However, do not expect human weakness among Indigenous Communities at this time. Expect pain, sorrow and a profound sadness but in all my life I have never seen a more powerful and resilient people than members of the First Nations of this land. I stand amazed at the unconquerable spirit of those I have grown to love. Today, be on the right side of history.

J. Kevin Cameron, Executive Director, NACTATR

How to Talk to Your Children About the Unfolding Events at the Former Kamloops Residential School (from NACTATR)
 Dr. Marleen Wong

 Preface

In the 1800s and through the 1900s Indigenous children in North America were taken from their homes and forced to attend boarding schools.  They were punished for speaking their native languages and deliberately stripped of engaging in or even thinking about their spiritual and cultural values and practices.  Even in the face of child labor laws, they were made to work long hours in unpaid manual labor.  Many of the children were badly neglected.  All were emotionally abused if not physically or sexually abused.

Alive today are those who survived the experience of the residential boarding schools.  From first-hand experience, they knew children who did not survive.  The wounds are deep with words such as historical trauma and genocide used to describe what has occurred.

Dr. Maria Brave Heart defines historical trauma as the “cumulative… psychological wounding over the life span and across generations, emanating from massive group trauma experience.” She emphasized that we must be especially aware not only of the effects of multigenerational historical trauma but the ways in which each family and tribal community frames the story and meaning of their losses.

For adults, she identifies four components designed to foster healing from trauma and grief:

1) confronting the history;

2) understanding the trauma and its effects;

3) releasing the pain; and

4) transcending the trauma. 

This is a difficult and heart wrenching journey for adults. How can we talk with children about this tragedy?

*Maria Yellow Horse Brave Heart, PhD (Hunkpapa/Oglala Lakota), Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Director of Native American and Disparities Research at the Center for Rural and Community Behavioral Health, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque.

 For Our Children Today

In this segment, we draw from the work of multiple expert sources:  The National Child Traumatic Stress Network, the American Psychological Association, and organizations that educate children about the Holocaust in which six million Jews were exterminated because of hate, bigotry and unrelenting political scapegoating and condemnation.  You may recognize common elements. However, we are organizing them to align with what we know about prevention, intervention and resilience research in child trauma, brain science and the healing power of meaningful connections and conversations between caring adults and children.

Take a moment. Take a deep breath.Take stock of your own emotions before talking about the Kamloops tragedy with your child.The purpose of your conversation is to understand and to address your child’s concerns. Your child needs you to be calm and to reassure them that their safety is of greatest important to you. 

Listen to your child’s fears, questions, worries to understand what they are thinking or feeling without criticism or judgment.

You can say something to Protect them If they ask, “How did the children die or Why did this happen?” for example, they may be wondering “Might this happen to us?” A short, honest, and reassuring answer for a young child would be something like, “This happened when children were separated from their parents for no reason except they were First Nations children. They were forced to live in residential schools where they were treated badly.  We don’t allow this to happen anymore. We have laws against it, and leaders who have told us how wrong it was.”

- Connect with them in age appropriate ways. A child in kindergarten or early elementary grades want to know that they and their loved ones are safe. Let them know they can come to you anytime they feel worried or afraid.  

Think together about ways you and your child can reach out and make a difference.You might decide to do a good deed.There may be children in your community who can benefit from kindness and inclusion.

- Model kind and sensitive behavior. Start slowly. In the beginning, keep it brief. Your child will let you know what they are worried about which will change over time as more is known.  We know that hundreds of residential schools will now be subject to the same scrutiny as the former Kamloops Residential School. Even though some of the survivors of Kamloops have said that they were not surprised by the discovery of the child graves, there is more trauma ahead if new discoveries are made about other abuses and losses.

Model tolerance, respect, and civic engagement. The best way to make sure your child grows up to understand the lessons of the history of Indigenous people. Sponsor a family, help out at a food bank, find a way to give back and help make the world a better place for us all. 

In your actions, show that you believe in your child’s resilience. Yes, it is a dangerous world, and there are reasons for fear. But they are not alone and together you can use the lessons of the past to help your child feel empowered by helping to create a world that is safer, kinder, and more loving.

Be creative. Help your child find healing avenues of creative expression, whether musical, visual, linguistic, dance or some other culturally or spiritually relevant way. 

Teach your children how to face a crisis.  Be honest and provide reliable information.  If you don’t know, it’s o.k. to acknowledge that. You can say, ‘That’s a really good question, let’s think about how we can find the answers. Don’t overwhelm your child with more than they need to know at the time. Your child will be reassured by your honesty. Children can feel secure in a dangerous world if they feel they have a caring adult they can depend upon and trust. 

Share your belief that love is stronger than hate. Help your child move toward constructive actions that fight every kind of bigotry, and prejudice.  Share stories of the courage of First Nations heroes in everyday life who have stood up to racism and discrimination.  Point out ways in which you have observed your child speaking out, reaching out or helping others at home, at school, in clubs, places of worship or in other activities.

 

Guidelines for Parents/Guardians to support children through times of grief during and after a traumatic event (Safer Schools Together)

Be yourself – Demonstrate your natural concern calmly and in your own words.

Be available – Spend time with your child. Attempt to distract your child by reading, walking, going to a movie, etc.

Listen – Let your child express his/her thoughts, concerns, feelings, and perceptions in a nonjudgmental, emotionally safe environment.

Explain – Talk about what you know in short, truthful statements. Don’t be afraid to admit that you do not have all the answers. Do not speculate.

Develop resiliency – Your child will look to you for reassurance. Do not convey your own feelings of hopelessness, but rather let your child know that they will get through this difficult period.

Provide comfort – Physical and verbal comforts are great healers.

Attend to physical manifestations of trauma - Children will often complain of headaches, stomach aches, backaches, etc. Monitor physical symptoms such as loss of appetite, anxiety, sleep disturbance, etc. and determine whether medical intervention is required.

Maintain regular routines – As much as possible, attempt to provide normalcy to your child. Humans are creatures of habit and derive comfort from regular routines.

Monitor media exposure – Do not overexpose your child to media reports (especially preschool and elementary age children).

Seek additional support – When appropriate, your child should be directed to community support agencies.

Reference Links (NACTATR)
https://www.nactatr.com/files/2020NACTATR-PFA.pdf

https://www.nctsn.org/resources/conversations-about-historical-trauma

https://www.nctsn.org/resources/age-related-reactions-traumatic-event

https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/going-beyond-intelligence/201811/how-should-you-talk-your-child-about-the-holocaust

Canadian Resources (NACTATR)
Métis Nation BC – Mental Health Services (KUU-US Crisis Line Society)

First Nations Health Authority – Mental Health Benefit

KUU-US Crisis Line

Indian Residential School Survivors Society

Tsow-Tun-Le-Lum Society

Aboriginal Wellness Program

Canadian Mental Health Association - British Columbia Division

HeretoHelp

Kids Help Phone

Crisis Services Canada

First Nations and Inuit Hope for Wellness Help Line

Every Child Matters

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