Good afternoon parents/guardians,
It is with a very heavy heart that I write this email to you today.
The news from last Thursday of the discovery of at least 215 Indigenous children at the site of a former residential school near Kamloops is horrific as well as deeply emotional for many in our community and across Canada. The tragedy of our country’s past injustices and unimaginable treatment of First Nations’ children and families is a stark reminder that we still have a long path ahead of us towards reconciliation. It remains critical to continue to seek and share the Truth before any real Reconciliation is possible.
We are in communication with the local W̱SÁNEĆ First Nation to ensure that we are respectful in our acknowledgement and actions to this recent event. There will be staff, students and community members who are significantly impacted by this recent news and who will need support to navigate through things. Ensuring that our actions are mindful of the traumatic nature of this event is critical.
Initial District Actions
All Canada and BC flags will be flown at half-mast from the morning of Mon May 31st to the evening of Fri June 4th
Staff and students are encouraged to wear ORANGE during the week of May 31st – June 4th
As a district, we are committed to ensuring that our responses are more than just wearing orange and lowering flags to half-mast. We also have the obligation to commit to an educational focus in consultation with the local W̱SÁNEĆ First Nation community – one that responds not only to this tragic discovery, but also continues our moral obligation to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action. We are working with the Nation to produce educational resources that will allow students to engage in learning about this tragedy in ways that are trauma-informed, and age and culturally appropriate.
Responding to Trauma
Each of us will be working through this tragedy in our own way. Attached is a document from our provincial partner Safer Schools Together that you may find helpful with regards to recognizing trauma and helping your children who may be having some difficulty with this topic.
Additional Community Resources
The following is a list of resources and hotlines dedicated to supporting Indigenous people.
KUU-US Crisis Line 1-800-588-8717
Indian Residential School Survivors and Family 1-866-925-4419
Mon – Fri, 8am – 8 pm PT:
Weekends, 10 am – 2pm PT:
Tsow-Tun-Le-Lum Society 1-888-403-3123
Aboriginal Wellness Program 604-675-2551 or 1-866-884-0888
Canadian Mental Health Association - British Columbia Division 1-800-555-8222
First Nations Health Authority – Mental Health Benefit https://www.fnha.ca/benefits/mental-health
Métis Nation BC – Mental Health Services https://www.healthlinkbc.ca/mental-health-substance-use/resources/kuu-us-crisis-line
Our district is a family who care deeply about each other and we will continue to do so through this very difficult time.
Superintendent & CEO, Saanich Schools