National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

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In the next few days, schools across York Region will be raising an Every Child Matters Flag for National Day of Truth and Reconciliation on September 30. 

We raise the flag to honour the thousands of lives lost and harmed in residential schools. We raise the flag to recognize the legacy of this dark chapter on First Nations, Métis, and Inuit families and communities. We raise the flag to recognize that we are living on the traditional lands of the First Peoples of this land. And we raise the flag as a symbol of our commitment to Truth and Reconciliation. 

It is important that we recognize that raising the flag is a symbol - and an important one - but without action, it is no more than that. 

I encourage us all to take the time this week to reflect on what actions we can take in our individual and professional lives to learn the truth and to engage in the work of reconciliation. 

Are we taking the time to learn about this part of Canada’s history, as well as First Nations, Métis, and Inuit perspectives, histories and cultures? How are we embedding the actions from the Indigenous Education and Equity Strategy into our system, school and classroom planning? How are we embedding this knowledge into our work in a good way? How are we reflecting on the meaning of the land acknowledgment when we read it? And how are we fulfilling the call to action within the land acknowledgement? How are we working to build trust and relationships?

As an educational organization, we are in a unique position and have a responsibility to undertake the work of Truth and Reconciliation.

If you have not done so, I encourage you to read the Truth and Reconciliation Commission reports and calls to action. Calls to action 57, 62 and 63 relate most closely to our work as an education institution, but every call to action is significant and necessary. 

At the annual leaders’ launch, Elder Mandakwe, Shelley Charles, reminded us to take a moment for gratitude. We are grateful for our partnership with the Chippewas of Georgina Island First Nation, our partner in education and closest First Nation community. And I am personally looking forward to attending their pow wow this weekend. We are grateful for the opportunities we have to learn and to continue building trust and relationships with Indigenous students, families and community. With this gratitude, we acknowledge our responsibilities. 

As a board, we will continue to build on our commitment to truth and reconciliation. Our Indigenous Education and Equity Strategy will help to guide this work but it is incumbent upon us as a school board to continue dismantling oppressive colonial practices and institutions as we move forward on the path of reconciliation. We are proud of the steps we have taken but this work will continue for generations to come and we are helping to lay the foundation.