• Observing National Indigenous Peoples Day

    National Indigenous Peoples Day is Sunday, June 21. First declared in 1996 (then National Aboriginal Day), this day has become a celebration of unity and culture. It has grown to become an important day of celebration and recommitment for us each year. This year’s celebration is marred not only by COVID-19 restrictions, but most dramatically by the realization we are still so far from unity and equality. Protests and rallies for racial equality, sparked by the killing of George Floyd, have shed an uncomfortably bright light on this shadowy truth. We are compelled to examine our own preconceived notions and biases—as a society, an institution and individually.
    One question that we cannot escape is: do I see each person as a child of God, my relative, made in Christ’s image and likeness with an inherent dignity? Although we like to think the answer is a resounding yes, we often don’t look so deep.
    We cannot lose sight of progress we have made. As a province we have mandatory treaty education in all schools. Five years ago, the bold calls to action of the national Truth and Reconciliation Commission influenced our direction as a school division. We have done much to increase our cultural capacity and relationships with Indigenous communities: we participate in Following Their Voices; we’re in the midst of a multi-year plan to have all of our school-based administrators go through the Leading to Learn process; we have a variety of partnerships with Indigenous groups and organizations; we have Treaty 6 medal installations and flag raisings in our schools; we host annual feasts and round dances, and powwows; we have a Métis school of excellence with a budding Michif language program; and we have an award-winning Cree bilingual school—to name just a few.

    Each step along the path gives hope, and that hope is illustrated in higher graduation rates. Our entire Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools’ community congratulates all First Nation, Métis and Inuit graduates, and we wish you the best as you unfold your dreams and strengthen the nation and our communities through your contributions. We thank all First Nations, Métis and Inuit students and families for trusting in us to be a part of your growth and development and for making the school division stronger through your presence.

    At the same time we cannot deny we have a long way to go. Being on a path—even if it’s the right path—does not equate to arriving at the destination. We cannot retreat from the light back into darkness of ignorance or complacency. We must continue along the path of truth and reconciliation.

    On National Indigenous Peoples Day, let’s all pick up or download a copy of the TRC’s Calls to Action, pick one of the 94 calls (note they are not recommendations; they are calls to action), and make a plan for how we—how you—are going to bring about the change we so desperately need. 

    May God the Creator continue to bless us.

    Diane Boyko, Board of Education Chair
    Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools
    Greg Chatlain, Director of Education 

    Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools

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