Oki - (Hello) Chaparral Families,
The first Indian Residential School in Canada opened in 1831. Located in Brantford, Ontario and referred to as the Mohawk Institute, the school’s main purpose was to eliminate all aspects of Indigenous culture. Over the next 160 years, Indian Residential schools would be established across Canada. They would directly impact approximately 150 000 First Nations, Inuit, and Metis children, disconnecting them from their families and culture and subjecting them to feelings of loneliness, sadness, and fear.
Through the courageous and persistent efforts of survivors and their descendants, Residential School stories continue to unfold. We are becoming more informed and joining our Indigenous friends on a critical journey of healing and reconciliation. We are compelled to face the past, to listen and learn with empathy, and to strive for compassionate and respectful relationships.
This week, from September 27 to October 1, students and staff at Chaparral School will recognize Truth & Reconciliation Week. We will explore and respond to stories by Indigenous authors and participate in activities inspired by Indigenous ways of knowing and feeling. Thursday September 30 is designated Truth and Reconciliation Day, and the official Orange Shirt Day. The date was chosen because that was the time of year the trucks and buses would enter communities to gather the children and deliver them to their schools. Because there is no school for CBE students on September 30, we will observe Orange Shirt day on Wednesday September 29. Everyone is invited to wear something orange to school that day.
The importance of including this topic in our curriculum is expressed by Hereditary Chief and leading Indigenous relations trainer, Bob Joseph (2019) who suggests, “It’s the next generation that is really going to carry change forward in Canada. If you have children in your life, the most important thing you can do is to raise informed, compassionate citizens.”
Throughout this week, teachers will keep parents apprised of tasks and discussions with students relating to this topic. Please acknowledge and continue conversations at home. As always, connect with teachers should you have questions, concerns, and/or need for clarification.
We are looking forward to this week. Our hearts and minds will be joined as we explore Truth & Reconciliation and what it means to matter.
Chris Buhler, Principal
Joseph, B. and Joseph, C.F. (2019). Indigenous Relations: Insights, tips, & suggestions to make reconciliation a reality. Indigenous Relations Press Page Two Books.