“On September 30, as we commemorate and recognize the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and Orange Shirt Day, we encourage teachers, students – everyone – to wear orange to acknowledge and confront the devastation that Canada’s residential school system has inflicted on Indigenous communities, and to honour Survivors and their families, as well as the children who did not return home.
As Catholic teachers, we have a responsibility to take action in our classrooms and communities to champion the message of this day, that every child matters. Today, and throughout the school year, we must commit to the important and necessary discussions about the histories of Indigenous Peoples; the intergenerational trauma caused by this country’s residential school system and how it has devastated the identities, cultures, and spiritual values of Indigenous communities; and the systemic, anti-Indigenous racism in our society. And we must make space for the voices of Indigenous Peoples, from whom we must listen and learn.
As an Association, we renew our commitment to support the calls for the Vatican to take further steps towards Truth and Reconciliation, as part of the progress started this summer with Pope Francis’s direct apology to Survivors and Indigenous Peoples for the Catholic Church’s role in Canada’s residential school system. And we support the calls for the federal government to immediately implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, promoting meaningful action toward addressing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action, and for the provincial government to reinstate vital resources around Indigenous education.
To seek justice and confront the enduring pain caused by Canada’s residential school system, we must continue to walk with Indigenous Peoples from across Canada in their pursuit of healing, and immediate and meaningful Reconciliation, as we add the strength of our voice in the advocacy and struggle to end discrimination against all Indigenous Peoples.”
- Barb Dobrowolski, President of the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association