The recent confirmation of 751 unmarked graves at the site of the former Marieval Indian Residential School in Saskatchewan and other unmarked grave discoveries at residential school sites across Canada over the past few weeks, have brought attention to the legacy and traumatic impact of residential schools on Indigenous communities. With over 150 residential school sites across Canada, we recognize that there will be more confirmations of unmarked graves and burial sites in the foreseeable future.
The Algoma District School Board values our partnerships with Indigenous communities and organizations and is committed to continue to build and strengthen these partnerships across our school communities. Our partnership with the Sault Ste. Marie Indian Friendship Centre in the Kina Awiiya Secondary Program is an example of what can be done when we work together. As we plan for re-opening in September, we do so with reaffirmed conviction to work with Indigenous partners to ensure that all students learn about Indigenous perspectives within the curriculum, including the history and impact of residential schools. We will also be strengthening existing support for Indigenous languages and cultural activities within our schools. ADSB will continue to collaborate with the Children of Shingwauk Alumni Association, supporting truth and reconciliation actions within our local communities. In addition, ADSB will further engage the voices of First Nations, Métis and Inuit youth in the ADSB Northern Indigenous Youth Council to further understand and enhance their lived experiences within our schools. Only by working together, with Indigenous students, families, communities and partners, can we fully understand our history and our present, and build a positive future for everyone.
During these difficult times, our thoughts are with the survivors and the family members of students who never returned from residential schools. At the conclusion of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the Chair, Honourable Senator Murray Sinclair summarized that, “Education has gotten us into this mess, and education will get us out.” Reconciliation requires truth; thus, education will be key to understanding the truth, so that we can move forward with true actions for reconciliation. We acknowledge that our relationships with Indigenous communities and partners are central to such education and to the truth.
We are mindful of the trauma that these discoveries bring forward in the community. The following resources are available to support students, families, staff and communities through this difficult time:
• Indian Residential School Survivors and Family Hotline: 1-866-925-4419
• Crisis Services Canada: 1-833-456-4566 or text 45645
• Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868
• First Nations and Inuit Hope for Wellness Help Line: 1-855-242-3310
• Native Youth Crisis Hotline: 1-877-209-1266
• ADSB Summer Wellness Line: 1-888-393-3639 or 705-945-7111, ext. 70548