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215 Children

As we have taken the time over the past week to consider the impacts of the heartbreaking discovery of the remains of 215 Indigenous children at the residential school site in Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc we, along with so many other Canadians, grieve with heavy hearts this tragic and unnecessary loss of these precious children. At the same time, we also recognize that we cannot even begin to understand what this discovery means to the Indigenous people across this land, including survivors of the residential school system and their families.

Every day, children are entrusted to our care, and school should always be a safe place. As trustees, educators, school staff and parents, it is difficult to imagine the loss of even one child at school, let alone 215. It is even more heartbreaking to know that this is not an isolated incident, and in all likelihood there will be more devastating discoveries on residential school sites in the months and years to come.

Part of our responsibility as a school division is to ensure that our students learn the truth about our country’s and province’s history, including the residential school system and its lasting impact. Many classroom discussions and activities have taken place this past week as we help our students and each other understand these truths. Through our Wisdom and Guidance Committee, we remain committed to working with our First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities to provide guidance, support, resources and education to our staff and students as we walk this path towards reconciliation together.

It is a time for grief, but also a time for action. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) has worked very hard to shed light on this dark chapter of Canadian history. In the 2015 TRC summary report, the commission issued specific calls to action (71-76), asking the federal government to accurately detail the number of deaths, to establish a National Residential School Death Register, and to locate the remains of the children who passed so they can be properly memorialized. As the TRC states, “Without truth, there can be no reconciliation.” We are hopeful that this discovery is the impetus for all levels of government, and society overall, to ensure these calls to action are carried out quickly, respectfully and fully, and finally provide some peace, healing and resolution to the Indigenous community.

Let us keep these 215 children, the thousands of others who also suffered and died in the residential school system, and their families in our hearts as we take these important next steps together.

The Board of Trustees
Kim Armstrong
Cheryl Dumont
Glenys Edwards
Stanley Haroun
Sheri Wright

Superintendent Krimsen Sumners
Deputy Superintendent Marianne Barrett
St. Albert Public Schools