June 21 is National Indigenous Peoples Day in Canada, and a focal point of Indigenous History Month.
In 2021 we observe this day with a particular grief, as we mourn those children whose bodies were found in a mass unmarked grave at the site of a former Residential School in Kamloops. We grieve for the parents who never got to see those children come home from Residential School. We grieve for the generations of indigenous people who suffered, and still suffer, great trauma from the Residential School system. We grieve for our country, which will never be whole while the hard work of truth and reconciliation remains ahead of us.
We try at the same time, however, to use this day to celebrate the rich and beautiful lives of Indigenous people, their culture, history, art, wisdom, and more. We celebrate our First Nations, Metis and Inuit peoples as Canadians. And most of all, together we celebrate our shared humanity.
Also known by such names as Freedom Day and Jubilee Day, Juneteenth is a celebration of the end of slavery in the former Confederacy after the end of the American Civil War.
This year marks the first celebration of Juneteenth as an official Federal Holiday in the United States.
Juneteenth has grown to be a day that is observed in the US and around the world, as it symbolizes not only the fight against the evil that is slavery, but also the fight against racism in all its forms. Slavery finally came to end in the US in 1865, but racism lies at the heart of so many of the evils that still haunt the United States, Canada, and indeed, humanity. Current issues such as Black Lives Matter, Critical Race Theory, and on June 19th, the establishment of Juneteenth as an official holiday, are all just part of the ongoing and centuries old struggle against racism.
June is National Indigenous History Month, highlighted by National Indigenous Peoples Day on June 21. Visit us in the school library, live or online, and join with us as we celebrate and learn more about First Nations, Inuit and Metis history.
“This past Friday, Tk’emlúps te Secwe̓ pemc First Nation in Kamloops, B.C. announced the discovery of the remains of more than 215 children buried at the site of what was once a residential school. This news was a heartbreaking reminder of the trauma of residential schools, and the impacts that remain in our province today.
To honour these children and all those who suffered trauma and harm at the former residential school in Kamloops, all flags in our district will be flown at half-mast until further notice.
This horrific tragedy serves as a difficult reminder for survivors of residential schools and their families, of the hurt and intergenerational trauma they have endured. We will continue to care for our staff, students, and families in need of our support or resources, and we encourage anyone who needs additional support to reach out to their school. We must all continue to take care of each other.
As a public education institution, the Surrey School District remains committed to revealing and correcting miseducation around the shameful legacy of residential schools and the ongoing need for Truth and Reconciliation. As the Honourable Justice Murray Sinclair, Chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, once said, “Education got us into this mess and education will get us out of it.”
There cannot be reconciliation without truth and understanding. Our district is committed to having meaningful discussion about the effects of residential schools and the legacy they have left behind. While these conversations on history and the impact of residential schools are taking place within our schools, we encourage families to also continue the learning at home. The Indian Residential School Survivor Society (IRSSS) and the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR) have several resources on their site for families to learn more.
Our hearts go out to the families of the children and to all communities closely impacted. Please take a moment to reflect on this recent discovery and to reach out and support one another.”
Today is Earth Day. There are many ways to celebrate and observe this important day. Perhaps you can check out some of these books we have the look at Planet Earth. Find out more about our life on this planet, including ecosystems, climate change, and threats to our environment on this, our only home in the universe.
Although it is pretty insignificant in relation to the entire universe, less than a grain of sand in the ocean of space, the Earth is pretty important to us– it is the only home we have. All human beings should celebrate the Earth, and protect it.
Celebrate Earth Day tomorrow and every April 22. And celebrate life on Earth every day. Earth is the only planet we’ve got.
Yom HaShoah, or Holocaust Remembrance Day, is the day that Jews around the world remember the six million who perished in the Holocaust. This year Yom HaShoah begins on the evening of April 7 and continues until sundown on April 8.
Find out more about the Holocaust, the systematic mass-murder of more than 6 million Jews, and other groups, targeted by the Nazis and their allies:
International Women’s Day is powered by the collective efforts of all.
Collective action and shared ownership for driving gender parity is what makes International Women’s Day impactful. Gloria Steinem, world-renowned feminist, journalist and activist once explained “The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organization but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights.” So make International Women’s Day your day and do what you can to truly make a positive difference for women.