To celebrate the heritage, diverse cultures and outstanding achievements of First Nations, Inuit and Metis peoples, the Lambton Kent District School Board is recognizing National Indigenous Peoples Day on June 21.
The local school board said while June is National Indigenous History Month, it is also a time for all Canadians to reflect upon and learn the history, sacrifices, cultures, contributions, and strength of First Nations, Inuit and Métis people.
“Throughout the month and particularly on June 21, LKDSB honours the history, heritage and diversity of Indigenous peoples in Canada and encourages staff, students and families to work alongside local Indigenous communities to promote learning and understanding of Indigenous rights, histories, knowledge, culture, and perspectives,” said Randy Campbell, Chair of the Board and John Howitt, Director of Education.
Throughout the month of June, LKDSB’s Indigenous Education team has arranged a calendar of events and activities for staff and students to learn more about the diversity of Indigenous culture and histories. This includes teaching resources, virtual learning sessions and a virtualpanel discussion titled, “What does Anishinaabe Giizhgad mean to me?”
Campbell said National Indigenous History Month provides opportunities for students and staff to commit to focused and intentional learning to honour the heritage, culture, perspectives and current advocacy efforts of Indigenous peoples.
“In support of these efforts, we appreciate the ongoing educational partnerships with Aamjiwnaang First Nation, Walpole Island First Nation – Bkejwanong Territory, Eelnaapéewi Lahkéewiit (Delaware Nation) and Kettle & Stony Point First Nation as we work together throughout the year to promote student success and well-being,” said Campbell.
June also marks the one-year anniversary of the tragic news of the confirmation of hundreds of unmarked graves at the former sites of the Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia and the Marieval Indian Residential School in Saskatchewan. Further reportshave unveiled more than 1,800 confirmed or suspected unmarked burials.
LKDSB said they are committed to supporting the Truth and Reconciliation Commission: Calls to Action and acknowledging the ongoing intergenerational trauma and harm caused by the residential school system and settler colonialism.
The school board is engaged in continual work to honour the survivors, families and communities and remember those children who did not return from residential schools. LKDSB will honour them on Orange Shirt Day and the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on September 30, 2022.
Howitt said in support of the LKDSB’s strategic priority of ‘Inclusive Diversity: Champion anti-oppressive education,’ they continue to work alongside local Indigenous communities to ensure schools are welcoming, safe and inclusive for all.
“We know as educators and education workers, we have a significant role to play in the reconciliation process to further the knowledge and understanding of Indigenous rights, histories, culture and perspectives amongst students, staff and the community,” said Howitt.
Bird Bouchard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Ridgetown Independent News