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Last Day & Summer, Indigenous Peoples Day, Confronting Islamophobia

Topics covered in this post:

  1. Last Day of School

  2. Student Device Drop-off

  3. Summer Forms & Communication

  4. Thanks to our Amazing Team Teachers

  5. Class of 2021

  6. Thank you to Parent Volunteers

  7. Thank you to Doug Anderson

  8. Support for Residential School Trauma

  9. National Indigenous History Month and Indigenous Peoples Day

  10. Support following hate-based attack in London

  11. Confronting Islamophobia on the Bookshelf

  12. Ask Ellie

  13. JICS Garden Help

  14. Report Cards

  15. Games Day

  16. Upcoming June Events

  17. PHOTOS!


1. Last Day of School

Our last day of school is tomorrow, Friday, June 18 at noon. We want to thank all JICS families for your support and encouragement during this unusual year. We are currently updating the Parent Handbook 2021-2022 as we await Ministry and TPH guidelines and we will share it with parents ASAP. We wish everyone a healthy and fun summer!


2. Student Device Drop-off

Grade 1-6: please drop off your devices to the school on Monday, June 21, 12:00-5:00pm. Please clearly label your child’s device with their name and grade (e.g. Richard Gr3A). All devices will be reformatted for 2021-2022 school year. We will also be collecting JICS Library books and other borrowed school resources. Children are unfortunately not permitted in the building, and we ask that all adults pre-screen, wear appropriate PPE, and maintain social distancing. Teachers will have any remaining personal items ready for pick up at that time as well. More information will be sent by your child’s teacher.


3. Summer Forms & Summer Communications

This post marks the penultimate issue of the 2020-2021 weekly website posts. Look for next week's final post for this school year on Thursday, June 24. Updates will be emailed to JICS parents throughout the summer as new information becomes available.

You will soon be receiving an email request to complete the first portion of the online school forms (SFO) for the 2021-2022 school year. In August, we will send you the final portion of online school forms along with notices from the Parents’ Association and more.

Nursery teacher, Norah L'Espérance, will write to all Nursery families inviting an update on their child's summer and informing each family of their staggered start date. Other teachers will be in touch in a range of ways. Please don't hesitate to contact the school if you have any questions at all.


4. Thanks to our Amazing Team Teachers

In this past year, we faced unprecedented challenges during these extraordinary times. We want to take a moment to thank our Team Teachers who were a huge part of the success of this year: Charlotte, Evan/Yara, Jessika, Rosie, Shanese, Walker, Meaghan, and Rabia. Each teacher brought incredible skills, professionalism, and passion for the children. We wish you well in your future careers and we hope to reconnect with you whenever possible.


5. Class of 2021

Today we had a beautiful graduation celebration under a tent in our schoolyard (following strict covid-19 protocols) for the Grade 6 Class of 2021. To our graduates - we are so proud of you and we miss you already. The JICS community will have an opportunity to learn more about this amazing group of students from their yearbook profiles that will be shared in next week’s final post.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank the remarkable parents of our graduating class for your years of support and trust. At todays’ beautiful and moving in-person graduation, we were delighted to announce their Legacy Gift. The Legacy Gift is a voluntary donation that each graduating class leaves to the school to honour their children’s time at JICS and to benefit future generations of the school community. The 2020-2021 Grade 6 families generously donated to the JICS Endowment Fund, the first graduating class to do so. The parents felt that such a donation would be a timely reflection of the school’s values and would continue to have a meaningful impact every year. The Grade 6 families surpassed their goal of raising $25,000.

In the words of the Grade 6 Legacy Gift Committee:

The Grade Six families and our children are keenly aware that the 2020-21 year has been an incredibly galvanizing time, shaped by the pandemic, important social protests, and a heightened awareness of how systemic racism shapes our lives. We wanted to meet this watershed moment by creating an on-going contribution towards the equity and anti-racism work done by the lab school.
We felt that a donation to the JICS Lab School Endowment Fund would have a meaningful yearly impact. The use of its proceeds will be governed by a Statement of Intent that recognizes that the gift is meant to support initiatives that will have a tangible impact on JICS's own work towards advancing equity and confronting racism.
It is anticipated that the gift might support things like relevant expert speakers, professional development training, curriculum development workshops, parent education events, and the development and dissemination of equity-related education research in accordance with the lab school's public mandate.
As parents, we also felt it was important to try to honour a key mission originally expressed by the school's first Director, Dr. William Blatz, who viewed the education of the entire school community as one of its primary objectives. Our Legacy Gift Committee considered the documentation of the history of the school (on the JICS website), and we felt that this gift also aligned with the fact that, as the Lab School gained national and international prominence in the 1930s/40s, it was the reputation of the school's robust parent education programs which ultimately attracted the high calibre of education and social work professionals for in-service opportunities that allowed the school to achieve its status as an independent institute (independent from the Department of Psychology).
Finally, we also hoped that the proceeds from this gift could be allocated in consultation with the JICS Teacher/Staff Equity Committee or other future equity or affinity committees that may be formed within the school community, and that the initiatives be designed to be responsive to the particular needs of the given school year.
We were so pleased to have achieved 100% participation from the Grade 6 families, and that we were able to raise a total of $26,350.00.

This generous and important donation will be commemorated with a plaque erected in the first floor courtyard/gym hallway, as a reminder of the JICS Lab School’s commitment to EDI and with the hope that it might inspire future class gifts of this nature.


6. Thank you to Parent Volunteers

In addition to all the parents we thanked in last week’s post, we also want to thank the following individuals:

  • Elaine Lam, parent of children in SK and Grade 2, for her role as parent representative on the JICS Lab school Child Research Committee since 2018.

  • The JICS After School Daycare Board parent representatives: Janina Shuster (Chair) and Alene Toulany, Julia Dorfman, Mishaal Hussain, Paul Miskew, Polly Dondy Kaplan.

  • The 2021 Grade 6 Graduation Committee Leaders: Meg Graham (Chair) and Karen Ng, Michael Salamon, Nadia Thomas, Nicos Fassler, Shone Joos, Tracy Pryce.

The Lab School is very grateful for the valuable contributions from all our JICS parent volunteers, and inspired by their effort and commitment. It is a testament to the strength of the JICS community, how deeply everyone believes in it, and how much the children and families’ time at the school is treasured and appreciated. We thank you all!


7. Thank you to Doug Anderson

We wish to share a very special thank you to Doug Anderson, author of the Indigenous Lens of Natural Curiosity 2nd Edition: The Importance of Indigenous Perspectives in Children’s Environmental Inquiry, and parent of child in Grade 6, for the many hours he has dedicated over his years as at JICS to helping children, teachers, and parents learn by his side.

To Doug: On behalf of all of us at JICS, thank you for bringing your warm heart and sharp mind to working with the staff and students. You have shared your Anishinaabe and Metis knowledge with us, and we are a changed community because of your generosity.


8. Support for Residential School Trauma

As a community, we join the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation in grieving the tragic discovery of the unmarked graves of 215 Indigenous children at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia. We know that this discovery may lead to students, staff, and their families feeling outraged, vulnerable, and traumatized. The JICS Lab School is here to support you and Ellie Lathrop, our school social worker is also available for consultation, As well, if needed please reach out to the Residential School Crisis Line 1-866-925-4419 for help and support. At JICS, we remain fully committed to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Actions, and to the process of ensuring equitable resources for every Indigenous child in Canada.


9. National Indigenous History Month and Indigenous Peoples Day

Statement of Solidarity for National Indigenous History Month from the JICS Lab School and the Natural Curiosity Program

June is National Indigenous History Month, a month dedicated to learning about Indigenous cultures, heritage, and experiences, and honouring the ongoing contributions of Indigenous Peoples to Canada and the world. We celebrate the thousands of years of Indigenous wisdom, tradition and resilience while also committing to ongoing reflection and decolonization efforts, year-round. In the wake of the devastating news about the 215 children found at the Kamloops Residential School, and in honour the seven generations of Indigenous Peoples who survived the residential school system, it is critical for all Canadians to listen and respond actively to the Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and diverse Indigenous voices across Turtle Island. The JICS Lab School and Natural Curiosity are committed to unlearning and relearning the true history of this country alongside Indigenous educators and students. Our work to bring environmental and land-based education into the heart of Canadian educational settings, will always be in the spirit of Truth and Reconciliation. Here is a link to this month’s Natural Curiosity newsletter, which provides an abundance of resources and support to do the same.

Monday June 21 is National Indigenous Peoples Day

This June 21, 2021 is the 25th anniversary of National Indigenous Peoples Day. In cooperation with Indigenous organizations, the Government of Canada chose June 21 as a day for all Canadians to recognize and celebrate the unique heritages, diverse cultures, and outstanding contributions of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. For generations, many Indigenous peoples and communities have celebrated their culture and heritage on or near this day due to the significance of the summer solstice as the longest day of the year.

Children’s Magazine for National Indigenous History Month

To mark National Indigenous History Month and National Indigenous Peoples Day, publishers Owlkids, 4Canoes, and released The Ojibwe of Great Spirit Island: Celebrating Indigenous Culture Together, a special magazine for kids ages 4 to 12 which is available on newsstands across Canada now.

Adult Books to read for National Indigenous History Month

June is National Indigenous History Month. Celebrate by reading one of these books by First Nations, Métis and Inuit authors, curated by CBC.


10. Support following hate-based attack in London

As we grieve with the Afzaal family and the whole Muslim community, we know that this attack may lead to students, staff, and their families feeling unsafe and vulnerable. The JICS Lab School is here to support you and we are committed to confronting and interrupting Islamophobia and all forms of racism, hate, and discrimination. Please reach out to the school staff if you need any help. Ellie Lathrop, our school social worker is also available for consultation, As well, families and staff may wish to connect with the following community resources:

Arab Community Centre of Toronto 555 Burnhamthorpe Road, Unit 209 Etobicoke, ON M9C 2Y3 (416) 231-7746

Naseeha Youth Helpline-Mental Health 1 (866) 627-3342


11. Confronting Islamophobia on the Bookshelf

Islamophobia is present in our society and negatively affects the lives of many, including families and individuals in our own JICS community. It is all of our responsibility to stand up and take action to change this narrative and build a more inclusive and equitable society where everyone feels safe and has a sense of belonging. One of the ways we can use our power to confront Islamophobia at school and at home is by celebrating, centering, and integrating Muslim faith and culture in our choice of books that we share with children. Stories influence the way we view the world and our position in it. Professor Rudine Sims Bishop, often referred to as the “mother of multicultural children’s literature” says that children need literature to provide mirrors, windows, and sliding glass doors. Literature as mirrors reflecting children’s own cultures builds pride and self-confidence in their identities; as windows they offer a peek into other children’s experiences and develop understanding, connection, and empathy for diverse perspectives; and as sliding glass doors, stories offer children a way to walk through into new spaces and be changed in the process. Literature can transform children’s thinking, the way children view themselves, and how they affect the lives of each other.

According to Bishop, it’s not just the children who have been underrepresented and marginalized who need these books, it is also the children of the dominant culture who always find mirrors in their books and get an exaggerated sense of their own self-worth and a false sense of what the world is really like. Literature can offer all children these “sliding glass door experiences”, which disrupt the commonplace view and create an opportunity for positive changes to happen in their minds and hearts, as well as the teachers and parents sharing them. Stories can inspire kindness and hope, and start a conversation that will ultimately lead to changing the world.

Please find here a selection of wonderful picture books available in our JICS Library collection that represent characters of Muslim faith in positive ways and celebrating Muslim culture. In curating our collection, we look for beautiful books that include Muslim characters authentically and accurately, honour contributions, strengths, and accomplishments, and depict Islam in a positive and celebratory light. Whenever possible, we seek books that are written by Muslim authors and illustrators. We’re also sharing a few links to websites with more resources below. If you know of other books or websites you’d like to recommend, please email Chriss

Picture Books Celebrating Muslim Culture in the JICS Library Collection

Book Lists that Celebrate Muslim Culture and Promote Positive Views of Islam


12. Ask Ellie!

Dear JICS families, It is hard to believe that it is the end of the year. Sending a huge whoosh of appreciation to the children, families, as well as the teachers and staff. You have all worked hard during a difficult year and I have continued to be struck by way the JICS community embodies creativity, compassion and grit. A special shout out and 👏 out to the Grade 6 graduating class! Congratulations on all your good work. Wishing everyone a restful summer and hope that you have time to nourish good things in your lives. I think we are all needing some time for deep relaxation, nature and free play. In Week 7 of Ask Ellie, we have a wonderful question about how to be an ally for your gender expansive child. As well as our weekly smile 😎.


Dear Ellie,

My child recently told me that they identify as gender fluid and also want to use they/them pronouns. My partner and I are separated and my child does not want to share this with their mother. They asked​ me not to get involved. I want to be an ally and support my child in being their authentic self and also want to respect my child's wishes regarding who to tell and when. I feel caught in the middle. Your thoughts on navigating this are appreciated.

Dear Feeling Caught in the Middle,

Thank you for this considerate question. I can hear the love and care you have for your child in this question. We know that gender fluid / gender expansive / non-binary or transgender young people who are supported can thrive. It is an unfortunate reality that gender diverse people face stigma and discrimination and this is even more common for gender diverse people who are racialized or have other marginalized identities. A supportive environment and positive affirming relationship with parents is protective for young people. Research done by the Family Acceptance Project shows that family rejection leads to increased risk for serious health concerns.

Finding the time and space, outside of your relationship with your child, to address your own thoughts, feelings and reactions about your child's gender identity may be important. For many parents, it can be an adjustment to learn that your child does not identify with the gender they were assigned at birth. There are many excellent supports for parents such as PFLAG and Gender Creative Kids. In an article on the website there are some helpful ideas about supportive parenting practices.

  1. make home a supportive and safe environment to express feelings and be authentic

  2. require respect within the family (ex - taking the initiative as a parent to make sure everyone at home uses your child's pronouns)

  3. express support for your child's gender expression (by allowing them to choose clothes, toys, hairstyle etc, without pressure)

  4. challenge others who disrespect your child's gender (following up in a polite but firm way will demonstrate that you are an ally)

  5. establish and maintain an open and honest communication with your child

It is clear from your question that you are already in a place of being supportive and affirming of your child. You are thinking deeply about how to honour and respect your child's wishes regarding how they share information about themself. Balancing being supportive while also following your child's need for autonomy is an important path to walk. It is significant that your child feels safe enough in their relationship with you to share that they identify as gender fluid. As you continue to have conversations about this with your child, perhaps you can let them know that you are on their side and let them know that you are happy to offer support in whatever ways feel right to them. Your child may appreciate hearing from you some ideas about how you (or they) could talk to their mother about this topic. Exploring their concerns about sharing their gender identity with their mom, may be important. It is also key to have this conversation in ways that are not derogatory about your ex-partner. I believe that by slowing down and respecting the pace your child wants will affirm to them that you believe they can decide how and when to talk to their mom and others.

It isn't easy to be a parent. Sometimes we can feel overwhelmed by the layers of conversations to negotiate. I would encourage you to have faith in your own wisdom and compassion as a parent and in your child's strengths and resiliency. Believe in your child's inherent potential for happiness and nurture this. It sounds as though they are well on their way to figuring things out and it is encouraging that they have such a resourceful and kind parent. Sending you warm thoughts.


Weekly 😊

Dear Ellie:

Why did the robot go on vacation?

Dear Curious:

They needed to recharge their batteries.


To all parents, kids, teacher and staff have a wonderful summer!!


13. JICS Garden Help

We have a vegetable and herb garden in raised planters that is in the school yard. If you or your family would like to take a turn this summer watering and enjoying the bounty of the gardens, please contact Krista at We welcome any level of commitment and will work with you to find times that work for your family!


14. Report Cards

Report cards for each child (Nursery to Grade 6) will be mailed June 25 or sooner. The envelope will include the Alumni Echo Newsletter and report card.


15. Games Day

On Monday, we celebrated our annual beloved Games Day thanks to the leadership of the Grade 6 students, along with David, Ben, Rabia, Paige, Tory and all the teachers.


16. Upcoming June Events - PRIDE Month & National Indigenous History Month

Thurs 17 – Grade 6 Graduation (pm)

Fri 18 – Last day of school. Noon dismissal.

Mon 21 – National Indigenous Peoples Day

Mon 21 – Gr 1-6 Device Return and pick up of material 12:00-5:00pm

Fri 25 – Report Cards mailed home


Enjoy These Glimpses of Games Day Fun!

Enjoy these photos of Nursery children in the Courtyard


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