Bluewater District School Board

Bluewater's National Day for Truth and Reconciliation page

National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

BWDSB Marks First National Day for Truth and Reconciliation
Posted on 09/29/2021
September 30, 2021 marks the first ever National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, which also coincides with Orange Shirt Day.  National flags are being lowered at Bluewater District School Board schools and worksites, while students and staff wear orange and broaden their learning in honour of residential school victims and survivors.

TIntroductory slide for Niigaan Sinclair's virtual presentation on September 24, 2021: "The 'Why' of Truth and Reconciliation and How to be an Ally"he occasion is the culmination of a week of Truth and Reconciliation themed activities in Bluewater, which have focused on initiating crucial conversations and awareness on Indigenous history and culture in Canada, and the detrimental impact of residential schools.

To lead off the itinerary, several employee groups attended an anti-racism/anti-discrimination themed live virtual presentation with Dr. Niigaan Sinclair during the September 24 professional activity day.  An assistant professor at the University of Manitoba and renowned commentator and writer on Indigenous issues, Dr. Sinclair addressed the collective responsibility of all members of our education system to leverage our influence and power to educate, and how to be an ally.

In addition to Orange Shirt Day participation, here are some of the many examples of school-based activities occurring in Bluewater this week. We will add to this list as new information becomes available:

  • G.C. Huston Public School – *smudging ceremony, lighting of the sacred fire, drumming, and a ceremony with special guests at Zgaa-biig-ni-gan Bridge in Southampton to symbolize a renewal of our commitment to each other

  • Bruce Peninsula District School/St. Edmunds Public School – Flag and message board displays, daily secondary webinars with the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, the singing of "O Canada" in Ojibwe, a residential school map, and a whole school contribution to a visual of 6,200 children using dots or fingerprints

  • Saugeen District Senior School – presentations running in the front lobby, *smudging ceremony, hand crafted ribbon skirts for students, lacrosse, and a class play on Indigenous heroesBulletin board at John Diefenbaker Senior School featuring student art of orange shirts, Phyllis Webstad poster, and list of Indigenous authors
  • John Diefenbaker Senior School – Daily video broadcasts on residential schools and reconciliation, and a bulletin board display featuring Orange Shirt Day founder Phyllis Webstad, books by Indigenous authors, and student art designs that symbolize the uniqueness of each child taken from their families
  • Grey Highlands Secondary School  Manufacturing, Construction, Transportation, and Communications Technology Grade 10, 11, and 12 students and teachers "Orange Shirt Car" design (see photos below)

  • Normanby Community School  Grade 7/8 initiative to make a sign for the school's front foyer and involve students from all grades in creating handprints (see photo below)

    *Smudging is a cultural ceremony practiced by Indigenous people in Canada. The practice involves the burning of sacred medicines; typically sage, tobacco, sweetgrass, and cedar.  The purpose of smudging is to gain protection, health, blessings, and cleansing.
Truth and Reconciliation themed learning will also continue beyond the current week.  On October 20, 2021, as part of the Downie-Wenjack Fund’s Secret Path Week, a ReconciliACTION virtual assembly will unveil Reconciliation Hall at the front entrance of Saugeen District Senior School.  The Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action #63 iii: “Building student capacity for intercultural understanding, empathy and mutual respect” is at the heart of this space.  As Dr. Niigaan Sinclair stated in his address to Bluewater employees on September 24, Indigenous voices matter, and if reconciliation is “to live, it must be within spaces as much as in the classroom.”

"Every Child Matters" orange flag on display at Bruce Peninsula District SchoolAbout the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation
Recently designated as an annual federal statutory holiday, the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation honours residential school victims, survivors, and impacted communities.  It is one small step in confronting the history and immeasurable damage that persists as a result of the residential school system, and Canada’s long journey in the reconciliation process.

For more information:

About Orange Shirt Day
Founded by former residential school student Phyllis (Jack) Webstad, Orange Shirt Day takes place annually on September 30.  It is named after an incident that occurred when Phyllis was six years old, whereby her new orange shirt was confiscated on the first day of residential school.  The memory is symbolic of the treatment received by residential school students, and the attempts to diminish their culture, traditions, and worth.

For more information:

Student created medicine wheel made from stones at GC Huston Public SchoolGC Huston Public School community volunteers under tent with items on display and "Every Child Matters" signMedicinal ingredients and dolls displayed on table outside GC Huston Public School
Grey Highlands Secondary School Manufacturing, Construction, Transportation, and Communications Technology Grade 10, 11, and 12 students and teachers with their "Orange Shirt Car"Orange Shirt Car at Grey Highlands Secondary SchoolNormanby Community School students in foyer with "Every Child Matters" sign that includes student handprints
Indigenous art and "Every Child Matters" slogan on easels below Georgian Bay Thunder logo on smart screen in main entrance at Georgian Bay Community SchoolIndigenous art on orange banner with snow shoes and oars displayed below in main entrance at Georgian Bay Community School"Every Child Matters" sign with orange handprints on display in main entrance at Georgian Bay Community School

Bluewater District School Board is located on the traditional land of the Saugeen Ojibway Nation, which is represented by the communities of Saugeen First Nation and Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation.
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