In June, Canadians recognize and celebrate National Indigenous History Month to honor the history, heritage, and diversity of Indigenous peoples in Canada. It is a time for us to recognize the strength of Indigenous communities, as well as an opportunity to learn about, appreciate, and acknowledge the contributions Indigenous peoples have made in shaping Canada. It is also a time to reflect upon the critical importance of truth and reconciliation.
The discovery this past week of the remains of 215 children has, for many people, ignited a sense of horror and outrage that something like this could happen in our country. Many of us have been aware of this abhorrent part of our nation’s history, however, what we have come to learn this week has galvanized a new resolve in many people, and a realization that outrage and horror are not enough. As you honour the memory of these children, we ask that you also choose to see this as a catalyst for a commitment to sustained change.
The Richmond School District is committed to educating all staff and students about the fundamental way that Indigenous people, and their culture, contribute to our nation. As a school district, we stand against racism and recognize the need for a renewed commitment to truth and reconciliation across our nation. The Richmond Board of Education’s Strategic Plan contains a number of commitments to truth and reconciliation, to equity, and to ensuring that Indigenous peoples’ history and perspectives are embedded in our work.
- Strategic Priority One/Goal Three- Indigenous peoples’ history, perspectives and learning approaches are embedded within district planning and practices.
- Strategic Priority Two/Goal One- District learning environments are equitable and inclusive.
- Strategic Priority Two/Goal Two- The district actively addresses unconscious bias and privilege, systemic discrimination and marginalization based on factors such as ability, colour, cultural identity, gender, gender identity, Indigeneity, political beliefs, race, religious beliefs, sexual orientation and socio-economic status.
These commitments provide a roadmap and a moral compass that will guide the district’s work in this critical area over the next five years.
As citizens of Canada, we all have a responsibility to learn about and enact truth and reconciliation. As members of the Richmond School District, we all have a responsibility, regardless of our role, to ensure that Indigenous students and any students who face marginalization and systemic discrimination, receive high quality learning experiences, and that every student learns about what it is to be an educated, caring and antiracist member of society.
We find ourselves at a crucial point in our nation’s history. Now is the time to ensure that the lives of the 215 children in the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc territory (Kamloops), and the many more lost across the country through the cultural genocide caused by the residential school system, were not lost in vain. Please consider how you can be a part of this next phase in Canadian history, hopefully one where we can all look back at our collective step forward towards truth and reconciliation.
On behalf of the school district, we offer our deepest respect to the families of the children and to all Indigenous people.
Superintendent of Schools