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Surrey and White Rock schools recognize National Day for Truth & Reconciliation

With the National Day for Truth & Reconciliation approaching this weekend, schools and classes across the district have been engaged in a variety of learning activities and hosting events to recognize and build a deeper understanding of Canada’s dark history with First Nations and residential schools.

On Friday, students and staff are encouraged to wear orange shirts for Orange Shirt Day, which coincides with the National Day for Truth & Reconciliation. Students at Fraser Heights Secondary screen printed 100 orange shirts, with proceeds from sales going to the Fraser Region Aboriginal Friendship Centre Association (FRAFCA).

At Surrey Centre Elementary, students are spending the week reading books by Indigenous authors and hearing their cultural and historical stories. The school’s library is among many districtwide highlighting Indigenous authors and other resources about residential schools.

Last week, students at Chimney Hill Elementary wrote personalized territorial acknowledgments, sharing things they are grateful to be able to enjoy on Coast Salish lands while recognizing the Katzie, Kwantlen and Semiahmoo First Nations.

Grade 3 students at Lena Shaw Elementary read The Secret Pocket by Peggy Janicki, a story of survival and resilience based on the author’s mother’s experience at a residential school, and sewed Orange Shirt Day pins to wear this Friday.

And on Tuesday, Fleetwood Park Secondary classes held their first Walk for Wenjack, a grassroots movement by the Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund in memory of a First Nations boy who ran away from a residential school in Ontario and died in his attempt to return to his home reserve.

Many schools, including Katzie Elementary and Kwantlen Park Secondary will be hosting Truth & Reconciliation assemblies and events for students on Friday morning, and L.A. Matheson Secondary will be participating in Indigenous drumming.

LAM’s main hallway is also decorated with Truth & Reconciliation displays on the Mohawk Flag and Medicine Wheel, information boards on Métis First Nations, books by Indigenous authors and a map of residential school sites as a reminder of their part in Canada’s history. And the school is distributing orange pins to the entire school featuring the Mustang Justice logo designed by Indigneous alumnus Skarlett Ford.

All Canadian flags across the district will be flown at half-mast on Saturday, Sept. 30 to mark the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. We also remind our community that schools will be closed on Monday, Oct. 2, in lieu of the Saturday statutory holiday.

We encourage everyone to take some time to learn more about and understand the history and ongoing trauma caused by residential schools and to honour those who were lost and the survivors, families and communities who continue to grieve.

The Residential Schools Crisis Line (1-866-925-4419) is available for anyone experiencing pain or distress as a result of the ongoing impacts of the Residential School system.

Numerous community events are also taking place in Surrey, White Rock and the surrounding Lower Mainland for the National Day for Truth & Reconciliation. For more information, click here.

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