Lambton-Kent students ‘conscious of the need for change’

A sign that reads "For The Children Who Couldn't Play" at John McGregor Secondary School. (Photo courtesy of Jennifer McQuade via Twitter)

Lambton-Kent’s Catholic and public school boards are committed to recognizing Indigenous history and culture beyond just one day.

Monday, June 21, is National Indigenous Peoples Day. June is also recognized as National Indigenous History Month.

This national day of recognition comes shortly after the remains of 215 Indigenous children were found at an unmarked grave in Kamloops, B.C.

The Director of Education for the St. Clair Catholic District School Board (SCCDSB) said she thinks the tragic news has solidified a commitment to social justice.

“Our kids have become very conscious of the need for change and are engaging in action as a generation to make sure that we do change for the better,” said Deb Crawford. “Hopefully coming out of this pandemic, people will value the things that really matter in life.”

Crawford said in the wake of the discovery and in recognition of the seven generations of Indigenous people affected by the residential school system, students and staff will honour the lives stolen and the generation’s impact with different events.

“We’ll begin on June 21 with prayer and remembering and we’ll gather to honour the resilience of Indigenous People and we’ll also celebrate the thousands of years of Indigenous wisdom, tradition, and resilience,” said Crawford. “Also, committing to ongoing reflection, learning, and action year-round.”

Indigenous artists, performers, and educators will celebrate diversity throughout the week. Events will be live-streamed.

Prior to June 21, students within the SCCDSB held an orange shirt campaign where $2 from every shirt sold will be donated to a residential school survivors’ society (location has yet to be determined). A memorial was also set up at UUC in Chatham.

Memorial at UCC. (Photo courtesy of the SCCDSB)

The Lambton Kent District School Board (LKDSB) has also scheduled different events and activities throughout the month. Some of the planned events include the history of Pow Wows, learning about the significance of feathers, as well as a music and dance showcase.

LKDSB Director of Education John Howitt also said education and acknowledgement regarding North America’s history and the impacts of colonialism need to continue beyond the month of June.

“As a school board, we need to continue to move forward both in our understanding of the real history that existed and continue our work toward reconciliation through consultation with the local Indigenous communities,” he said.

Howitt said the LKDSB has supports in place for any members who may be struggling with recent news.