School trustees for School District 71 have declared the last week of September to be Truth and Reconciliation Week.
At the Dec. 14 board meeting, trustee Kat Hawksby, one of the Courtenay representatives on the board, said she was responding to initiatives such as Orange Shirt Day, founded by residential school survivor Phyllis Webstad, and the recent national day as recognized by the federal government this past Sept. 30.
“It marked the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation,” Hawksby said. “It’s a day of remembrance meant to honour the survivors of [the] residential school system and those that did not.”
Hawksby said the move was a way to give a boost to the district’s activities for late September and the start to the school year.
“It would be more of a kick-off during that week,” she said.
Other board members were eager to support to idea to recognize Truth and Reconciliation Week.
Trustee Janice Caton thanked Hawksby for bringing forward the motion and reiterated the importance of the topic, one that has gained prominence through the B.C. School Trustees Association.
“We need to learn to listen and listen to learn,” she said.
Trustee Michelle Waited expanded on the declaration, saying that while local schools did take part in activities on Sept. 30 to mark the occasion, this decision by the board would formalize the process.
Board members then voted unanimously to support to motion.
The school district has taken other steps this year, including flying orange ribbons out front of its office in June.
The district has also been heavily involved with the National Legacy School Program and the Downie Wenjack Fund to work on projects about the history of residential schools in the country.
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