David Thompson Secondary School (DTSS) commemorated the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation on Sept. 29, as the school was closed on Sept. 30. The students and staff alike wore orange shirts in honour of the 215 children who were found buried at the site of the Kamloops Residential School. They also participated in taking a moment of silence at 2:15 p.m.
DTSS, part of Rocky Mountain School District #6, falls on the traditional territory of both the Shuswap and the Ktunaxa people, making Truth and Reconciliation an emotional day for the whole school.
Those who forgot orange shirts were given orange pins, made by the staff and students, in order to create a unified alliance against the horrors endured by those who attended residential schools, along with the intergenerational trauma that their family members are still enduring.
Sasha Taylor and Monica Fisher, Aboriginal Education Support Workers at David Thompson, executed an honorary board titled, “What Does September Mean to You,” in an effort to get students talking about the injustice that Indigenous peoples faced then, and the systemic racism they face now.
Taylor and Fisher wanted to start the conversation regarding what Indigenous peoples went through in residential schools and what intergenerational struggles they may still face. Students were invited to share their answers to the question on sticky notes, opening the conversation to others and broadening their own worldviews.
The school has also been showing their support ever since the 215 children were found in June. Their initial show of support was the pairs of shoes that were coloured and decorated by the faculty and students. Though DTSS’s goal was to complete 215 pairs, they ended up with many more due to an overwhelming number of allies wanting to help however they could.
A significant aspect of reconciliation is through education so, during the weeks leading up to Truth and Reconciliation Day, DTSS reorganized their library to showcase Indigenous authors. They also started a collective movement writing postcards to Rob Morrison, the recently re-elected Conservative MP for the Kootenay-Columbia region, detailing why Indigenous education is important.
Haley Grinder, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Columbia Valley Pioneer