By Lacie Nairn
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
DRUMELLER-There will be no classes across the province on Friday, September 30 in observation of the second National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, and teachers at Drumheller schools are taking steps to help students understand the history, and importance behind the day.
National Day for Truth and Reconciliation was established as a federal holiday in 2021, following the discovery of 215 unmarked graves at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School in Kamloops, B.C. The day is to honour residential school survivors and their families, and remember the children who never returned from these institutions.
Teachers at Greentree School will incorporate age and grade appropriate resources from Golden Hills School Division to help teach students the history of residential schools in Canada, and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s call to actions. This material will be taught in the week leading up to September 30.
Several activities are planned for Grade 7 students at Drumheller Valley Secondary School (DVSS). In 2021, staff and inmates at the Drumheller Institution donated a tipi to DVSS, and high school art teacher Shauna Johnson, with the assistance of her students, will have Grade 7 students adorn the bottom of the tipi with orange handprints. Other activities, such as rock painting and other craft stations will also be set up in the library for the students.
Indigenous team leads, Kelly Eddy and Vicki Black, have coordinated a school-wide project for St. Anthony’s students.
Students from Grade 1 to Grade 11 will create a paper chain circle representing the “safe circle” of St. Anthony’s, with each link having a student’s description of what Truth and Reconciliation means to them. Kindergarten and Grade 12 students will colour and decorate feathers, which will be placed in the centre and bottom of the circle; the feathers in the middle will represent the kindergarten students entering the safe circle, while the feathers at the bottom will represent the Grade 12 students graduating and leaving the school.
Staff and students at the three Drumheller schools are also being encouraged to wear orange on Thursday, September 29 for Orange Shirt Day, in recognition of the harm done by the residential school system.
Lacie Nairn is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter who works for THE DRUMHELLER MAIL. The LJI program is federally funded. Turtle Island News does not receive LJI funding.