Following another devastating finding of 751 Indigenous children buried on the site of a former Indian Residential School, in Saskatchewan, the Sir Wilfrid Laurier School Board (SWLSB) will be lowering flags to half-mast in all schools, centres and at head office to honour and express our collective grief and dismay. The flags will fly at half-mast for a total of 751 hours, in memory of each life lost.
This heartbreaking news shocked our nation, once again, and reminded everyone of one of the darkest chapters in Canadian history. “Our hearts are with all those affected by the recent announcement that 751 bodies were found at Marieval Indian Residential School in Saskatchewan. As I mentioned when the 215 bodies were found in the unmarked graves of the Kamloops Indian Residential School : We can’t change the past, but we must face the truth, so we can change the future.” said Paolo Galati, Chairperson of the SWLSB.
“We have been developing an initiative, working with an outside consultant to conduct an introspective analysis about how the school board can make sure all schools and centres foster inclusivity, diversity and equity, and how we can be better educated on these important matters in order to take action that will impact all stakeholders. Our goal is to remove all barriers and have learning and working environments free of any form of discrimination.” added Chairperson Galati.
In 2018, the SWLSB established a First Nations, Métis and Inuit Committee (FNMI Committee) to represent the school board’s interests in Aboriginal education. The mandate of this committee is to ensure integration of First Nations awareness into the educational process. With better education there is better understanding and improved acceptance. The Committee’s mandate which is part of the Pedagogical Services Department will continue the conversation to find ways to ensure that the school board can support, reach out and assist its schools and centres so that everyone gains a better understanding about Indigenous peoples’ culture and history.
With a workforce of more than 2,000 employees, the Sir Wilfrid Laurier School Board is the third largest English school board of the Province of Québec and has an 87.7% graduation rate. Its territory comprises the administrative regions of Laval, Lanaudière and the Laurentides. The school board provides preschool, elementary, secondary, adult education and vocational training services to over 14,000 students in 35 schools and 4 centres, as well as a business training division.