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National Indigenous Peoples Day

June 21, 2021
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Today, Monday, June 21, we recognize and celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day. We honour the rich histories, cultures, traditions and contributions of First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples across Turtle Island and acknowledge that we gather in our schools and offices on Treaty 6 Territory and the traditional Homeland of the Métis. 

While this year’s National Indigenous Peoples Day celebration continues to be affected by COVID-19 restrictions, we are thankful to all those who have helped keep us connected as a community this year. We are proud to have hosted our first ever virtual round dance, jigging competition, fiddle festival, and pow wow. We saw the continued advancement of the implementation of Treaty education, and participated in virtual Treaty and Métis flag raisings, and the installation of Treaty Medals in several schools. We came together to show our support of Isabella Kulak on Ribbon Skirt and Shirt Day and wore our Orange Shirts in solidarity with all children and families affected by the residential school system.

Despite these expressions of unity, we are reminded of the intergenerational effects of the residential school system and the diminishing effects of colonization on Indigenous peoples, cultures and languages. These are not only events of the past, but are sustained by systems and structures that continue to affect Indigenous peoples and communities today. We are not where we need to be but we accept the challenge of moving forward in a good way. 

Reconciliation begins with each one of us taking the time to learn and understand Indigenous history from Indigenous perspectives. We wish to support staff in this journey and, as a result, have partnered with First Nations University of Canada and Reconciliation Education to incorporate the 4 Seasons of Reconciliation training in our online Cyber School. All staff will be invited to participate in this Indigenous awareness training commencing in the 2021-2022 school year. This is a first step of many that we can all take to drive change in our schools, homes and communities.

As people of faith, we are acutely aware of the need for ongoing reconciliation in our lives and our relationships. Our commitment to reconciliation and healing calls us to initiate dialogue that faces and explores our past and present realities and employs that dialogue to plan a way forward in reconciliation. While in the early stages, we are refining our initiatives to address racism and aid students to lead the way forward in communities characterized by equity and inclusion. We are also planning to build on our strong foundation of Indigenous languages and land-based education to ensure that Indigenous knowledges occupy a more appropriate place in Catholic education. 

On National Indigenous Peoples Day, and every day, let us celebrate and honour Indigenous peoples and contributions. Thank you to our partners, including Saskatoon Tribal Council, Central Urban Métis Federation Inc. (CUMFI), Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN), Métis Nation Saskatchewan, Indian Teacher Education Program (ITEP), Saskatchewan Urban Native Teacher Education Program (SUNTEP), and all others who continue to walk alongside us in truth and reconciliation. 

Thank you to all families, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous, who entrust us to provide education for your children. We recommit ourselves to the important work of creating learning environments where all students can achieve their God-given potential. Thank you to all staff who continue to enrich opportunities for students to learn the true history of our Nation, the many contributions of Indigenous peoples in all aspects of society, and how to live and work in a respectful and loving community. May Creator God bless you along the journey and let everyday resonate with the promise of this special day.

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

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