National Day for Truth and Reconciliation
September 23, 2021
Dear NSTU siblings,
As you know by now, Premier Tim Houston recently announced that Nova Scotia will observe September 30, 2021 as the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, and that schools will be closed that day. This is intended to support students, school staff and our communities to reflect on the genocide of Indigenous children through the residential school system in Canada and remember and honour the children who survived and those who did not.
You may also know that September 30 has, in recent years, been celebrated as Orange Shirt Day, a movement to honour these children and shine light on this terrible history, birthed by the lived experience of Phyllis Webstad, a residential school survivor, from the Stswecem’c Xgat’tem First Nation in British Columbia. You can learn about why Phyllis founded Orange Shirt Day at https://youtu.be/E3vUqr01kAk.
As we collectively embark on establishing a national practice of remembrance and honour on September 30, I want to share the following resources with you to support you to participate fully individually and with your students.
Partnership with Mi’kma’ki Strong:
First, I am humbled to share that the NSTU is supporting the launch of a Mi’kmaq designed, produced and distributed Orange Shirt in partnership with Jonathan Beadle of Mi’kma’ki Strong. Mi’kma’ki Strong is a homegrown apparel company using fashion to move truth and reconciliation forward and educate the public about our shared treaty rights. Through this partnership, the design of the shirt reflects input from survivors of the Shubenacadie School, and a portion of the proceeds from the sale of each shirt will go to support these survivors. (Click here to download a PDF)
Members interested in purchasing one of these Orange Shirts can do so through Mi’kma’ki Strong’s online store at https://mikmakistrong.com/.
I encourage members to support this partnership and avoid purchasing orange shirts from corporate providers whose designs and products do not reflect genuine partnership with Indigenous peoples. As teachers, school counsellors and school-based specialists, it matters that our participation reverses the exploitative and oppressive role of schools in the lives of Indigenous Canadians.
The other vital way each of us can help launch the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is to use relevant teaching resources in lesson plans and other activities with our students leading up to September 30 and throughout the entire school year. Here are some resources for your consideration:
The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR):
The teaching resource collection of the NCTR contains English-language and French-language resources related to residential schools and other closely related topics. Resources organized by grade level can be found HERE.
Truth and Reconciliation Week (September 27-October 1) is a virtual event open to all Canadian schools for youth Grades 5-12. More information on the week and how to register can be found HERE.
Canadian Teachers' Federation (CTF) Imagineaction Program:
Truth and Reconciliation, What is it about?, available in both official languages, is a discussion booklet for students, which includes a selection of statements, stories and drawings received from Canadian students in Grades 5-12. The booklet is available free of charge to educators who have registered for the CTF Imagineaction program and can be found HERE.
To register for Imagineaction click HERE. Registration is free for NSTU members and the process takes only a couple of minutes.
Speak Truth to Power Canada - Truth and Reconciliation Lesson Plan -https://sttpcanada.ctf-fce.ca/lessons/wilton-littlechild/activities/
Film created in partnership with the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation (STF) and the Universities of Saskatchewan and Waterloo: Understanding and Finding our Way – Decolonizing Canadian Education.
CTF Blog contributed by BCTF: https://www.ctf-fce.ca/blog-perspectives/reconnecting-with-the-land-restores-teachers-spirits/
We have a key role to play in establishing a Canada wide culture of remembrance and honour on this very first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. I know you will embrace it and model the esteem Residential School victims, survivors and Indigenous peoples deserve in your teaching and your actions. Thank you for taking these steps as we walk out truth and reconciliation together. Should you have any questions about these resources, please don’t hesitate to reach out.
In solidarity- wela’lioq,