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St. James-Assiniboia School Division
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Schools Observe Truth and Reconciliation Week and Orange Shirt Day

September 28, 2023

​Students from across the St. James-Assiniboia School Division are learning about the impact of residential schools on Indigenous peoples across Canada as part of Truth and Reconciliation Week 2023 and Orange Shirt Day.​

For the second year in a row, teachers are accessing age-appropriate online resources provided by the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR) to help students learn about Indigenous languages, cultures, the history of residential schools, survivor learnings, and how awareness can inspire action.

April Waters is the SJASD Administrator of Indigenous Education & Community Support and leads a team of six Indigenous Education teachers and support staff. She says learning about residential schools and the connection between past and present is like “peeling an onion."

“Truth still has to come before Reconciliation and folks are still learning the truth," she says, adding that many families are learning about residential schools for the first time through their children.

To help teachers build on the NCTR online resources, the Indigenous Education team developed and distributed a resource guide to help further class discussions. They are also supporting school-based activities throughout the week, such as assemblies, walks, smudging ceremonies, drumming requests, and field trips.

School Activities

SJCI_TRW_2023_FB.jpgOn Monday, a group of students from St. James Collegiate Institute (SJCI) took a field trip to the site of Assiniboia Residential School. Students listened to residential school survivor Elder Betty Ross, who reiterated the need for truth before Reconciliation. Students are sharing their learnings with fellow students throughout the week.

“Students were shocked to learn that a former residential school was located so close to where we live and learn," explains teacher Tara Tuchscherer. “It was a day to connect and remember as many of our students found the names of their families and First Nation communities displayed in the monument honouring all the students who attended the Assiniboia Residential School."

IMG_9754_adjusted_FB.jpgOn Tuesday and Wednesday, Middle Years students at École Ness explored a gym-sized map of Canada to learn more about Indigenous communities, Treaty territory, and Indigenous histories within Turtle Island. “While engaging in this activity, students reflected on the location of residential schools across Canada and deepened their understanding about the past stories of Indigenous peoples," says Principal Roné Boyko.

Throughout the week, Early Years students at Stevenson-Britannia School are learning about treaties, developing their own classroom treaties, and connecting land acknowledgements to students' day-to-day lives. “Our goal this week is to honour children that attended residential schools and to ensure that students begin to understand the historical strengths of Indigenous communities and the impact of residential schools on Indigenous communities and individuals," says Principal Regine Nutten.

“Throughout the year, we will continue to invite families to share their strengths with us, smudge with us on Mondays and Fridays, and join us for sacred fires and community feasts to mark special days."

On Thursday or Friday, staff and students from across the Division will mark Orange Shirt Day by wearing orange shirts to honour the children that did not return from residential schools. The day comes one or two days ahead of Saturday, September 30, which marks the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

IMG_0020_400wide.jpgSansome School staff and students will​ observe the day on Friday via a school-wide assembly. Students will hear from Elder Norman Campbell, who will talk about the history of Orange Shirt Day and the importance of being proud of who you are. A class of Grade 2/3 students will perform “Spirit of the Sun" and students will also listen to the book “I Lost My Talk" and the poem “300 Sleeps." After the assembly, students will plant orange hearts along the front walkways of the school.

“Learning about one another, from one another, is Reconciliation," says Principal Henrietta Hoch. “It's the responsibility of educators to make Reconciliation a part of the educational experience of all students so we can learn from our past and move forward together."


Did you know that Truth and Reconciliation is one of five focus areas for teaching in learning in SJASD's new ​Str​ategic Plan? Learn more about Ma Mawi Anokiitaw Miinawaa (We Will Work Together Again) here.​​

For residential school Survivors and their family members that may need support at this time, consider contacting the National Residential School Crisis Line: 1-866-925-4419. SJASD students that need support can contact their school guidance counsellors or 
Educational Support Services.



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