“We acknowledge that we are living and learning on the shared traditional and unceeded territory of the Kwantlen, Katzie, Matsqui and Semiahmoo peoples” – Local territorial greeting
“…As we acknowledge our sinfulness we also learn how to respond to others with justice, compassion and a desire for reconciliation.” – from the LCS Educational Philosophy
LCS staff, united with hundreds of schools across British Columbia, will be wearing orange shirts this fall to remember the legacy and impact of the residential school system in Canada.
Growing up and going to school in the Fort Langley and Walnut Grove area, I had never heard of residential schools and was scarcely knowledgeable of the Kwantlen community just a short walk from my school. I never knew at the time that indigenous and Métis students in our province’s schools had the lowest school completion rates and were among the most impoverished people in our region.
I remember distinctly in my third year of university when I first learned about the legacy of discrimination in Canada’s colonial past. This part of our history was absent from my K-12 textbooks and curriculum. I remember distinctly wondering how such a system designed to eradicate the culture, language, values, way of life and traditions of our fellow Canadians, could have existed for so long in such a country as ours. Why didn’t we learn about this in school? Had we really fought for the freedom of people in occupied countries such as France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Hong Kong, and South Korea, all the while, our own brothers and sisters were torn from their parents and robbed of their futures? I remember being astonished to learn that it was only in the 1990s that the last residential schools in BC finally closed. To be sure there were some few who survived the education they received in these schools, but many thousands were abused, stripped of dignity, and never learned from their elders the essential cultural and traditional tools necessary to support their own families and live flourishing lives.
In this time of increasing awareness of social justice movements, we do well to remember our own nation’s failures to promote a just and fair society. The recent Truth and Reconciliation Commission recognized the importance of schools like ours to help educate future generations about the legacy of the past and to work collectively toward a better future for everyone. Orange Shirt Day is a small gesture of our support for reconciliation with our local indigenous communities on whose unceeded territories we do our work. We encourage everyone to wear orange shirts tomorrow, September 30, and to remember those who suffered in Canada’s residential school system. As a community indebted to Christ, and as a school striving to embrace inclusion and the diversity we see in the Bible (Rev. 7:9), we must posture ourselves toward our indigenous brothers and sisters with open ears and humble hearts. Ours is a welcoming school, ready to learn from our community.
Thank you for supporting Orange Shirt Day at LCS.