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Rainbow Schools mark National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

September 30th marks the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation – a day to acknowledge a tragic time in Canadian history and honour the lost children and Survivors of residential schools, their families, and communities.

“On this day, our staff and students will wear orange, and continue to learn about residential schools and their impact on generations of Indigenous peoples,” said Rainbow District School Board Director of Education Bruce Bourget. “When we wear orange, we honour the Residential School Survivors and their families and remember the children who did not come home.”

In Rainbow Schools, the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation reaffirms and reinforces the importance of the “Truth and Reconciliation: A Commitment to Action” plan adopted by Rainbow District School Board. The plan is dedicated to the former students of Canada’s residential school experience – the Survivors. This includes the many men and women, the Elders – including those who have passed into the Spirit World – whose traditional territory we now call home.

Rainbow Schools will observe a moment of silence to honour the Indigenous children who did not return home from residential schools and will play an honour/drum song recorded by Bryden Gwiss Kiwenzie who is from the Indigenous “Anishinaabe” community in Sudbury. He will be singing the Unity Song with the Grandmother Hand Drum. Bryden was nominated for the Best Hand Drum Album of the year at the 2017 Indigenous Music Awards and he has been performing with traditional drum circles since childhood.

A.B. Ellis Public School
Staff and students are encouraged to wear orange on Thursday, September 30th. Students will trace a hand on orange paper with their name to display on the “All Children Matter” board in the school’s foyer. Students will also learn about and discuss truth and reconciliation. Grade 3 and 4 students will paint rocks orange and write a message of support and solidarity with guidance from a Cultural Support Worker with the Noojmowin Teg Health Centre – Espanola Site. The rocks will be placed outside for a special event being hosted by Noojmowin Teg and the Town of Espanola to honor Indigenous peoples.

Algonquin Road Public School
Students from Algonquin Road Public School took part in learning activities that explored the meaning of truth. They also focused on residential schools, reconciliation and its importance moving forward. Learning will be captured using literacy strategies. On Thursday, September 30th, students are encouraged to wear orange. They will also gather in a sharing circle to reflect on their learning and how to work towards reconciliation. Primary students will take part in similar activities including a read aloud of “Stolen Words”. Teachers will extract concepts to engage students in meaningful learning about truth, fairness, empathy, kindness and reconciliation.

Assiginack Public School
On Thursday, September 30th, students and staff at Assiginack Public School will acknowledge the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation by wearing orange. Students will also learn about the history of Residential Schools in Canada through various classroom activities.  Students and staff will connect virtually at 9:15 am. The commemoration ceremony will conclude with a moment of silence. Assiginack Public School would like to thank the Ontario Native Women’s Association for donating bracelets and buttons to our students and for providing items for a bulletin board display in our school.

Barrydowne College
Barrydowne College will provide students with learning activities that focus on truth and reconciliation including an Orange Shirt Day Online Scavenger Hunt. Students who complete the hunt successfully will be entered in a draw to win an orange “Every Child Matters” t-shirt. On Wednesday, September 29th, in preparation for Orange Shirt Day, students will craft their own orange shirts. Lunch will be provided. On Thursday, September 30th, the entire school community will wear orange in honor of the survivors of Residential Schools and those who never made it home.

Centre for Education

A Sunrise Ceremony took place at the Rainbow District School Board Centre for Education on Thursday, September 30th from 6:30 am to 8 am. The ceremony was led by Anishinaabe Traditional Advisor Mr. Gerard Sagassige, a member of the Curve Lake First Nation.

C.R. Judd Public School
For the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation/Orange Shirt Day, students at C.R. Judd Public School will learn about treaties and what they mean, share readings and books about residential schools, and discuss meaningful questions such as “How do you try to be peaceful?”, “How do you try to keep the land clean?” and “What is your promise to this land and its people?” Students will also enjoy various art activities such as creating “Every Child Matters” orange shirts.

Charles C. McLean Public School
Students at Charles C. McLean Public School will enjoy a wide range of activities to learn about the significance of Orange Shirt Day. Grade 1 students will watch CBC’s “Molly of Denali” video as an introduction to residential schools, followed by a reflective discussion about how they would feel if something special were taken from them. Students in the primary music program will learn about traditional Indigenous hand drumming. To explore Canada’s Residential School System from a child’s perspective, the Grade 2/3 class will read a series of stories including “When I Was Eight”, “Not My Girl”, and “Shin-chi’s Canoe”. Students will create orange hearts with words and images to reflect their learning and will read “The Orange Shirt Story” by Phyllis Webstad and will decorate paper orange shirts with “Every Child Matters”. Grades 5/6 students will take part in daily seminars with the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation that touch on treaties, land claims, language, culture, truth, reconciliation, Orange Shirt Day and knowledge transfer. Students in Grade 7 and 8 will lead a walk through the town wearing orange shirts to raise awareness about the history of residential schools.

Churchill Public School
Staff and students at Churchill Public School will wear orange to show support for residential school Survivors, and to build a deeper understanding of the ongoing impacts of Canada’s Residential School System. Throughout the week, students will learn information shared during morning announcements, including the significance of National Truth and Reconciliation Day. Students in a Junior Ojibwe class will design and create feathers for all classes. Each student will be encouraged to write or draw a word that every child deserves. Following a group discussion, students will create an information display somewhere in the school for others to learn from. Junior music students will work with the song “We Won’t Forget You” by Indigenous artists N’We Jinan. Students will discuss parts of the song that resonated with them. A moment of silence will be observed during announcements on Thursday, September 30th.

Cyril Varney Public School
Staff and students at Cyril Varney Public School are encouraged to wear an orange shirt on September 30th in support of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. During morning announcements, a moment of silence will be observed to remember the children that never made it home from residential schools. Students will explore vocabulary through videos, read alouds and understanding the impact of Phyllis Webstad’s experience.

Espanola High School
In an effort to bring the entire school community together for the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, Espanola High School fashion students in Ms. Lacasse’s class coloured 450 shirts orange – one for every staff and student to wear on Thursday, September 30th. Students and staff will connect virtually at 9:30 am. Harvey Trudeau will join in to speak about residential schools and the Sixties Scoop in relation to reconciliation. Students will enjoy the Mi’kmaq Honour Song and will explore the Orange Shirt Day Memorial Yarn Bomb Tree. The commemoration ceremony will conclude with a moment of silence.

Jean Hanson Public School
Staff at Jean Hanson Public School developed a Bitmoji room for the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation/Orange Shirt Day that includes read alouds and videos to educate students about the significance of this day.

Lansdowne Public School
On Monday, September 27th, students at Lansdowne Public School engaged in a variety of readings and activities to build their understanding of the ongoing impacts of Canada’s Residential School System. Students will hear read alouds of “The Orange Shirt Story”, “I am not a Number”, and “When We Are Alone”. Students will also have the opportunity to learn through discussion, livestream events including an author visit by Courtney Defriend, and videos such as “Namwayut: We Are All One”. On Thursday, September 30th, staff and students will wear orange shirts, and create orange shirts and banners to show their support and ongoing commitment to truth and reconciliation.

Larchwood Public School
The entire Larchwood Public School community will recognize the tragic impacts and various aspects of the Residential School System in Canada. On Thursday, September 30th, students are encouraged to wear orange and will observe a moment of silence to mark Larchwood’s ongoing commitment to right relations with all Indigenous peoples, and to find meaningful ways to contribute to the healing process for all Survivors and their families.

Lasalle Secondary School
Senior student Hannah Middaugh-Plumpton will share the history and meaning of Orange Shirt Day with students during announcements in both English and Ojibwe.

Levack Public School
The entire school community at Levack Public School will engage in truth and reconciliation activities such as making bannock, learning ‘Grandmother’ Drum, making totem poles, engaging in treaty activities, learning about wampum belts and reading response activities to “Shi-shi-etko”. Grade 8 students have signed on to a week of virtual learning with presentations and keynote addresses through the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation.

Little Current Public School
Students and staff at Little Current Public School will wear orange to demonstrate the significance and importance of the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. Students will spend the week focusing on activities about truth and reconciliation, water issues in First Nations communities, and smudging. A variety of books and webinars will be shared in classrooms, and a truth and reconciliation board has been on display throughout the month. Intermediate students are creating legacy poems, and will select an object that represents them. They will use design software to create 3D printed symbols to join together as a class wampum, recognizing that we are all unique.

Lively District Secondary School
On Monday, September 27th, students from Lively District Secondary School learned the “The Orange Shirt Story” by Phyllis Webstad. In homerooms, students painted orange rocks with reflective words on Tuesday, September 28th. In cohorts, homeroom classes will place their painted rocks on a large orange shirt outside on Wednesday, September 29th. On Thursday, September 30th, students are invited to wear orange shirts, and classes will watch truth and reconciliation videos. Staff will also share images of students placing their orange rocks on the large orange shirt.

Video produced by: Tim Walker, Teacher, Lively District Secondary School

Manitoulin Secondary School
At Manitoulin Secondary School, a large “Every Child Matters” banner hangs in the front entrance of the school to honour the many children and families impacted by the Residential School System in Canada.

Monetville Public School
Leading up to September 30th, students from Monetville Public School will review the children’s version of the 94 Calls to Action. On Thursday, September 30th, staff and students are encouraged to wear orange. Classes will discuss the origin of Orange Shirt Day, and design orange hearts with “Every Child Matters” to adorn windows and corridors. Some classes will watch “The Orange Shirt Story” and will participate in a virtual Orange Shirt Day Q&A event with Phyllis Webstad. French classes will learn through presentations, videos and songs related to reconciliation followed by discussion. Classes will read “Stolen Words” and will colour art from an Indigenous artist.

N’Swakamok Native Alternative School
The N’Swamamok Native Friendship Centre will host a ceremony with Nokomis Julie on Thursday, September 30th from 1:30 pm to 2:30 pm. The event will include speeches, drumming and prayer. Sacred Fire will be lit at 9 am.

Queen Elizabeth II Public School
Queen Elizabeth II Public School will take part in a moment of silence to remember residential school survivors and youth who did not return home to their families. Between September 28th and 30th, educational assistants will serve handmade bannock with jam to all students. All classes will explore the significance of Phyllis Webstad’s “The Orange Shirt Story” and junior students will watch the Orange Shirt Day Organization’s “Canadian History and The Residential School System”. All classes will design an oversized orange memorial t-shirt to place on the school fence in a demonstration of their care and commitment to this national healing journey.

R.L. Beattie Public School
At R.L. Beattie Public School, classes will focus on empathy – recognizing feelings from another person’s perspective and experience. This week, students will also discuss the impact of residential schools. Kindergarten students will work to identify personal feelings and those of others. Aboriginal Support Worker Hazel Fox-Recollet visited students to share her experiences as an Ojibwe Elder, and the importance of appreciating our family, school community and environment. Miss Hazel introduced Ojibwe vocabulary, talked about her medicine wheel, invited students to smell sage, and sang a “thankful” song for students with her drum. A video was shared with families to continue learning at home. Students are examining books with Indigenous language and drawings that emphasize feelings. Students in all grades will engage in age-specific read-alouds to bring understanding and awareness of the impact of Residential Schools. Junior students will build their knowledge through stories.

S. Geiger Public School
On Thursday, September 30th, students and staff at S. Geiger Public School will acknowledge the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation by wearing orange. Students will also learn about the history of Residential Schools in Canada through various classroom activities. At a school-wide assembly, students will share coloured t-shirts to demonstrate their understanding of truth and reconciliation as well as their commitment to better understanding the impact of Residential Schools.

Walden Public School
Leading up to September 30th, staff at Walden Public School will share rich literature about the history of residential schools and engage students in activities that focus on language, culture and family. Students will also contribute to a large display in the foyer with messages on paper shirt cut-outs coloured orange to recognize the history and legacy of the Residential School System in Canada. On September 30th, staff and students are invited to wear orange to honour the experiences of Indigenous peoples.

Westmount Avenue Public School
At Westmount Avenue Public School, the focus leading up to September 30th will be age-appropriate education for students. Staff will have orange ribbon stickers for students who do not have an orange shirt. A special picture will be taken on Orange Shirt Day. Students will design a commemorative bulletin in the school that touches on the meaning and significance of this important day.

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Media Contact:

Nicole Charette, Senior Advisor,
Corporate Communications and Strategic Planning,
Rainbow District School Board, 705.674.3171, ext. 7217.