ODSS holds programming to commemorate the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation
Thursday September 30th marks the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation but some local schools are going beyond a one-day event. In addition to wearing orange shirts on September 30th, students and staff at Orangeville District Secondary School will honour the lost children and survivors of residential schools and their families and communities.
The themes of the week will include Truth, Reconciliation and Action. Students will contribute to a collaborative land acknowledgement, classes will include lessons and materials on reconciliation, and there will be celebrations of Indigenous contributions through film and music in the hallways as well as a fundraising initiative where all proceeds will go towards Save the Evidence Campaign by the Woodland Cultural Centre.
The events will span over multiple days during the week of September 30th. Students will participate in an awareness walk around the exterior of the school. The walk will feature interactive components and symbols addressing some of the obstacles and injustices facing First Nation, Métis and Inuit communities such as Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, unsafe drinking water, the ongoing uncovering of children’s unmarked graves. Furthermore, the act of walking is a reminder that reconciliation is a collective journey that must be done together.
“Our goals are to raise awareness, promote understanding, and inspire action on topics of reconciliation by providing opportunities for the students to listen to and learn from Indigenous peoples. We hope in the years to come we as a school can work harder to establish stronger connections with local treaty partners and return to in-person guest speakers to help us on this path of learning” says ODSS Art teacher, Kiran Denis.
Denis, along with several of the staff organizing the events, have participated in UGDSB First Nations, Inuit and Métis professional development which is part of the Board’s Action Plan on Indigenous Education.
First and foremost, the organizers aim to ensure that First Nations, Inuit, and Métis students and staff feel safe and supported. The ODSS Student Services Office will provide space throughout the events where students can go to seek support regarding these challenging and traumatic topics, as well as access to outside resources including crisis counselling lines.