The discovery of the remains of hundreds of indigenous children who died at a B.C. residential school were on the mind of Langley Superintendent of School Gord Stewart as Anti-Racism Awareness week wrapped up on Friday, May 28.
“At the end of this week, our Canadian society was reminded of the reality of racism in our history and present day,” Stewart wrote in a letter that went out to staff, parents, and guardians.
“Yesterday, Tk’emlúps te Secwe̓ pemc First Nation in Kamloops, B.C. announced the discovery of remains of more than 215 children buried at the site of what was once a residential school,” Stewart wrote. “As a district, we are horrified. We acknowledge this atrocity as a shameful part of our shared history. We recognize this news is devastating to Indigenous members of our community, causing pain, and a wide range of emotions. This tragedy is far reaching and is also impacting non-Indigenous members of our community.”
Stewart also noted that this week Indigenous Edmonton Oilers player Ethan Bear took a stand against racism after receiving hurtful messages on social media, sparking an #IStandWithEthan movement online.
“In our school district, staff and students showed their solidarity by wearing jerseys with his name on it. As a district, we seek to listen, learn and support those who have been impacted by racism in our community.”
The stories combine to remind that as a society we have more to do, said Stewart.
As Anti-Racism Awareness week ends, National Indigenous History Month is about to begin in June, and National Indigenous Peoples Day is June 21.
“As part of our district’s Truth and Reconciliation journey and Anti-Racism commitment, we encourage everyone to do your own learning and recommend families connect with your children and engage in conversations,” Stewart said.