Red Deer Public Schools will remain open later this month for National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
Earlier this summer, Sept. 30 was declared a statutory holiday by the federal government.
In a news release, officials at Red Deer Public said in consultation with the Indigenous community, as well as the Red Deer Native Friendship Society, they made the decision to keep schools open on Sept. 30.
“In partnership with the Red Deer Native Friendship Society and local elders, it was agreed through consensus that Sept. 30 remain as an instructional day in Red Deer Public Schools,” said Chad Erickson, superintendent.
“Our schools have a longstanding commitment to commemorating Orange Shirt Day, with many students and staff throughout the division recognizing the day by wearing orange, as well as honouring children who attended residential schools, and remembering the children who did not survive. With students and staff in class on Sept. 30, it will enhance the teaching, learning and understanding of residential schools and truth and reconciliation.”
On Sept. 30, 11,000 students and 1,500 staff will watch a division-wide produced video commemorating the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. Grade-appropriate lessons will also be provided to teachers from Red Deer Public’s First Nations, Métis and Inuit Learning Services team.
“We appreciate the opportunity to work in partnership with Red Deer Public Schools to raise the awareness of residential schools and truth and reconciliation. This day is an opportunity to honour those who attended Indian residential schools and to remember those who did not survive,” said Nadette Agecoutay, program director of the Red Deer Native Friendship Society.
“Residential school experiences are a hard message to deliver, and teachers want to teach on this topic correctly. We need to work together and support teachers and one another in a good, kind and loving way,” said local Kokum, Donna Bishop. “Teachers delivering the message need support along with students who are receiving the message, we all need to work together and walk together and support each other.”