National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on September 30 to remain an instructional day in Red Deer Public Schools
Following the federal government’s declaration of September 30 as the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, and after consultation with representatives in the Indigenous community, including our partner the Red Deer Native Friendship Society, Red Deer Public Schools will remain open for an instructional day, with a focus on commemorating residential school survivors, their families and communities and honouring those who did not survive.
The decision follows the federal government’s declaration of September 30 as the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
“In partnership with the Red Deer Native Friendship Society and local elders, it was agreed through consensus that September 30 remain as an instructional day in Red Deer Public Schools,” said Chad Erickson, Superintendent. “Our schools have a longstanding commitment to commemorating Orange Shirt Day, with many students and staff throughout the Division recognizing the day by wearing orange, as well as honouring children who attended residential schools, and remembering the children who did not survive. With students and staff in class on September 30, it will enhance the teaching, learning and understanding of residential schools and truth and reconciliation.”
“We appreciate the opportunity to work in partnership with Red Deer Public Schools to raise the awareness of residential schools and truth and reconciliation. This day is an opportunity to honour those who attended Indian residential schools and to remember those who did not survive,” said Nadette Agecoutay, Program Director of the Red Deer Native Friendship Society.
“Residential school experiences are a hard message to deliver, and teachers want to teach on this topic correctly. We need to work together and support teachers and one another in a good, kind and loving way,” said local Kokum, Donna Bishop. “Teachers delivering the message need support along with students who are receiving the message, we all need to work together and walk together and support each other.”
On September 30, 11,000 students and 1,500 staff will watch a Division-wide produced video commemorating the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. Grade appropriate lessons will also be provided to teachers from Red Deer Public’s First Nations, Métis and Inuit Learning Services team. Extra support, including those from Red Deer Native Friendship Society, will be available for students and staff on September 30 for those who need additional emotional support or debrief in dealing with the subject matter.
Red Deer Public’s Division-wide video will be posted on social media channels on September 30 for the community to view.
Red Deer Public Schools’ First Nations, Métis and Inuit Learning Services has been working across the Division for more than two decades, and is a recognized leader in the teachings and implementation of First Nations, Métis and Inuit culture and history in each of our schools, across all grades. Much of this work is guided by the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. In doing so, our Division’s First Nations, Métis and Inuit Learning Services has earned a reputation across the province for the quality and authenticity of its work in advancing the Calls to Action.
Residential Schools Presentation
One highlight includes a project, which was led by teacher Brian St. Germain who researched and developed an Indian Residential School presentation. In his research, Brian used the expertise from local Elder Ann Baker, who is an Indian Residential School survivor and served as President of the Aboriginal Community Council, at the time. He sought her out as his parents had already passed away and they never spoke to him about their attendance at an Indian Residential School. Brian gave his presentation at the Indigenous Gathering of the College of Alberta School Superintendents in 2015. Following the session, First Nations, Métis and Inuit Learning Services set out to ensure that every staff member at every school in the Division would hear his presentation on residential schools. The presentation was a huge eye opener for many people. More than 11,000 students and 1,500 staff in Red Deer Public have seen Brian’s presentation, and he has travelled across the province sharing his presentation with other school divisions in hopes of not only educating, but inspiring.