Last week the remains of 215 children were found on the grounds of a Kamloops residential school. This discovery is confirmation of what Aboriginal people have been telling us for decades and actions need to be taken. We must acknowledge our history and take actions towards reconciliation. The BCTF Rep Assembly passed the following motion this weekend in response to this horrific event.
That locals organize a walk in for the week of Monday May 31 to Friday June 4, 2021 to honour the 215 children at Kamloops Indian Residential School. That members that are able to wear orange as well and request schools to lower flags to half-mast for the week until June 4, 2021.
The motion calls for actions that span the entire week given the significance of this tragic discovery and its impact on Aboriginal communities. We are asking that teachers wear orange this week and that walk ins be scheduled as an act of solidarity with Aboriginal communities to honour the 215 children and all the others that did not come home from residential schools. Please talk with your staff rep to coordinate and plan a walk-in(s) at your particular site this week. We have received confirmation that school flags will be flying at half mast in recognition of these events.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission, as you know, created a series of recommendations for Canada in response to the historical and ongoing colonial project that has caused generational harm and violence against Aboriginal communities, children, families and cultures. Please take some time this week to reflect on TRC 57, which calls on teachers, among other public servants:
- We call upon federal, provincial, territorial, and municipal governments to provide education to public servants on the history of Aboriginal peoples, including the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Treaties and Aboriginal rights, Indigenous law, and Aboriginal–Crown relations. This will require skills-based training in intercultural competency, conflict resolution, human rights, and anti-racism.
and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Articles 8-10:
Indigenous peoples have the collective right to live in freedom, peace and security as distinct peoples and shall not be subjected to any act of genocide or any other act of violence, including forcibly removing children of the group to another group.
Indigenous peoples and individuals have the right not to be subjected to forced assimilation or destruction of their culture
Indigenous peoples and individuals have the right to belong to an indigenous community or nation, in accordance with the traditions and customs of the community or nation concerned. No discrimination of any kind may arise from the exercise of such a right.
Indigenous peoples shall not be forcibly removed from their lands or territories. No relocation shall take place without the free, prior and informed consent of the indigenous peoples concerned and after agreement on just and fair compensation and, where possible, with the option of return.
We know that there will be many students, families, teachers and other staff who have been retraumatized and triggered by this discovery. The VSB is sending out a message to school staff and administrators regarding supports available for any student, family or staff that needs support. The VSB has confirmed that they are working with our service provider to have extra crisis/trauma counsellors for VSB staff through the EFAP program 1-844-880-9137. There is also the Here to Help line 310-6789 (no area code) for any staff who are not on benefits; available 24/7.
The BCTF will also be sending out an email communication to all members with more information.
Please talk with your VESTA colleagues to organize walk-ins and wearing orange this week to acknowledge this devastating discovery as we stand in solidarity with all Aboriginal colleagues, students, families and communities across BC and Canada.
Please find below some resources that may be of assistance as you support students and colleagues at your school through this challenging week, in addition to the BCTF resources that can be found at https://bctf.ca/AboriginalEducation.aspx?id=13404
- National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation https://education.nctr.ca/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/ECM_Digest_English_Digital_.pdf
- Surrey Schools Aboriginal Education https://docs.google.com/document/d/102fL5BZ6PXvyoKwZy_WUUfCTjuh0shQlIl3DjmFECXs/edit
- BCTF Orange Shirt Day Activities https://www.orangeshirtday.org/uploads/7/9/8/7/79871818/bctf_orangeshirtdayactivities.pdf
- FNESC Grade 5, 10, and 11/12 http://www.fnesc.ca/irsr/
- Jen Whiffin, Pamela Hagen and Terri Galligos K-5 https://www.orangeshirtday.org/uploads/7/9/8/7/79871818/orange_shirt_day_mathematics_revised__p__j_.pdf
- Robin Drinkwater K-6 https://www.orangeshirtday.org/uploads/7/9/8/7/79871818/orange_shirt_day_kindergarten_to_grade_6_curriculum.pdf
- Les Plan Building Bridges Grade 5+ https://www.lesplan.com/sites/default/files/documents/publications/BB_Lev.1_No.1-2019-20.pdf
- Les Plan Building Bridges Grade 8+ https://www.lesplan.com/sites/default/files/documents/publications/BB_Lev.2_No.1-2019-20.pdf
- Witness Blanket https://witnessblanket.ca
- Gladys We Never Knew https://bctf.ca/gladysweneverknew/
- Project of Heart https://projectofheart.ca
- Shame and Prejudice: A Story of Resilience By Kent Monkman https://moa.ubc.ca/exhibition/shame-and-prejudice/
Vancouver Elementary Teachers’ Association-VESTA