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FMPSD ​Board Statement on the Kamloops Indian Residential School Burial Site

FMPSD ​Board Statement on the Kamloops Indian Residential School Burial Site

May 31, 2021

Dear FMPSD Family,

Alongside you, we mourn the 215 children who never returned home from the Kamloops Residential School. The recently discovered burial site is a shocking and stark reminder of this hideous chapter in Canadian history. As a country, we are ashamed, we mourn these children, and we stand in solidarity with the families left behind, who will never be the same.

Starting today, Division Office and all school flags will remain at half-mast until further notice. Today, our students and staff were encouraged to wear orange in solidarity, and the FMPSD Family answered the call as evident from our social media. 

The Fort McMurray Public School Division (FMPSD) is home to 36 Indigenous cultures. Indigenous Education as well as the implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action is a consistent priority, and one we take seriously. Our FNMI (First Nations, Métis, Inuit) lead, FNMI coordinators in all 16 schools, and Indigenous cultural navigator, who is also a local Elder, make up an outstanding team of leaders teaching the entire Division about the importance of our Treaty 8 territory - where we all reside. We have an FNMI student advisory council, which provides feedback to the Board on student matters. Most recently, we are fortunate to have launched an FMPSD Elder's Council, which will be essential in making sure that we are deepening the knowledge in our schools through their guidance. We are so honoured that they have accepted this role.

Additionally, all four high schools have Cultural Gathering Areas, where Indigenous and all students can come together to participate in cultural activities and smudge. 

Our students and staff participate and volunteer for annual Indigenous events such as Orange Shirt Day, Rock Your Mocs, and Louis Riel Day. Staff also sit on the Regional Aboriginal Recognition Awards (RARA) and Traditional Celebration of Achievement committees and have strong relationships with many local Elders, and Indigenous organizations such as the Nistawoyou Friendship Centre, and Northeastern Alberta Aboriginal Business Association (NAABA) - to name a few. Our students receive the highly coveted provincial Honouring Spirit Award, and RARA annually. Earlier this year, our students and staff participated in a land-based learning camp outside of Fort McMurray - an experience that was highly beneficial and applauded by our Indigenous students. The list goes on.

Justice Murray Sinclair stated that "because education was the primary tool of oppression of Aboriginal people, and miseducation of all Canadians, that we have concluded that education holds the key to reconciliation. Education is important." At FMPSD we promise to keep doing more, to learn, to listen, and do better. And, Doing What’s Best for ALL Kids.

To the Tk’emlúpsTeSecwépemc in Kamloops  - we see you, hear you, and honour you. We stand with you. 

Survivors of the Residential School system can get support through the Some Other Solutions 24/7 crisis line: 780.743.HELP (4357). Additional support is available through the Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868. 

Board of Trustees 

Fort McMurray Public School Division