Fraser Cascade School District 78 observed the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in a variety of ways this year.
In Agassiz, a house post was installed at the new Indigenous Friendship Centre. House posts can be seen throughout SD78, welcoming students, staff and teachers and acknowledging in a tangible way upon whose land on which they work and play.
The Indigenous Friendship Centre came to be last year to create a space for Indigenous students and families struggling to return to school from home learning during the first two years of the COVID-19 pandemic. SD78 board Vice Chair Cathy Speth said it was a safe space for Indigenous students to receive holistic help – socially, emotionally and academically. Speth added this is particularly helpful to students who live off-reserve. Counsellor Bernard Klop said the friendship centre can potentially help mend communal disconnects that no doubt formed due to pandemic restrictions; the isolation had significant impacts on emotional well-being.
The Indigenous Friendship Centre also has a location to help Hope-area Indigenous students – the former site of the C.E. Barry Intermediate School. There are plans to construct a third campus in the northern part of the district.
At Coquihalla Elementary, Shane John spoke to grade 5 and 6 students about residential schools as classes were involved in class readings. On Wednesday, the school participated in a blanket exercise and drumming. Students laid cedar at the school’s house post.
Hope Secondary students heard a presentation from 3 Crows Productions, a group of Indigenous storytellers focused on anti-racism and increasing awareness of the impacts of residential schools. Students at Boston Bar Elementary held their second annual walk to the aerial cable ferry site near North Bend, where students placed flags of remembrance.
The Fraser Cascade School District 78 operates on Cheam, Sts’ailes, Sq’éwlets, Seabird Island, Nlaka’pamux traditional territory as well as the shared territory of the Chawathil people of the Tiyt Tribes of the Stó:lō territory.