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Orange Shirt Day

Today was a PD day for all of our staff and faculty, with a focus on setting our course for the year. This morning, I worked with our music team to build documentation of the (amazing!) CFIS music program, and to capture our students’ progression from ECE through the end of elementary. While I have always respected our music team, it was truly a gift to spend a couple of hours hearing them share their expertise and passion. Our students are so fortunate to have access to such depth of knowledge throughout their time at CFIS.
Yesterday, while working in my office, I was able to eavesdrop on Mme Dalel - our grade one assistant teacher - who was working with individual students to strengthen and polish their printing skills. Her voice was full of patience and kindness; it was so clear how much she enjoys her work, and I could hear our students responding with determination and confidence.

Did you know…

That this year, CFIS is participating in Orange Shirt Day, to acknowledge our First Nations peoples, and recognize the legacy of residential schools? On Monday, students are invited to wear an orange shirt to school to participate in this initiative. Some of you have asked how we will broach this topic with our youngest students, and I wanted to share a few more details with you. Teachers’ description of the day will be framed as follows:

The first people to live in Canada were called the First Nations. They have always lived here, long before your grandparents or even your great grandparents.

A long time ago, when it was time for First Nations children to go to school, they did not get to go to school near their houses, where their moms and dads dropped them off and picked them up every day. They had to leave their families and live at school. When they were at school, they were not allowed to speak their own language, or talk about their families, or celebrate the holidays that were important to them. They were not allowed to wear their own clothes, or to have things that were special to them. One of the little girls who was sent away to school had a special orange shirt that she loved. The teachers took it away from her and she never got to see or wear that special shirt again. The teachers were not always kind to the children, and school was not fun for them. This made the First Nations children very sad. It also made their families very sad because they missed their children so much.

Now, we know that it was wrong to take children away from their families and their homes. We wear orange shirts to show that we know this was wrong, and that every child should get to go to a safe, happy school and stay connected to their family. On this day we remember how important it is to be kind to others, and we talk about how we can show that every child matters.

Teaches may also read the book Amik Loves School, which is consistent with the level of detail provided above.

If your family would like to learn more about Orange Shirt Day, the following links may be useful:

Official Orange Shirt Day site:
Shi-shi-etko Video: (this 6- minute video may be useful in discussing that it was sad for First Nations children to be separated from their families to attend school. While the actual content is appropriate for young children, the background music and camera angles may be somewhat eerie for some kiddos; I strongly recommend that parents watch it themselves and decide if it is a good fit for your child and family.)

I wish you a happy weekend, with lots of family time.