School Closures, Statements on Kamloops discovery, Music Night

Topics covered in this post:

  1. Ontario Government Decision Regarding School

  2. Statement from the JICS Lab School on the discovery at the Kamloops Indian Residential School

  3. Statement from OISE Dean Glen Jones on the discovery at the Kamloops Indian Residential School

  4. Music Night 2021 - Tonight at 6:30pm

  5. Pride Day - Thursday, June 10

  6. Lab School Teacher shares lessons on TVOKids Power Hour of Learning

  7. Parent Ed on Kids and COVID-19 Vaccine

  8. Ask Ellie!

  9. Upcoming June Events

1. Ontario Government Decision Regarding School

As you know, the Ontario Government announced that all schools in Ontario, will not return to in-person learning for this school year. We, at JICS, are of course profoundly disappointed in the decision to keep schools closed. We advocated as strongly as we could for the return to in-person learning, which is essential to the wellbeing of children, but it seems the Government rejected advice from educators, mental health practitioners, and child development professionals.

While we know all families will react differently to this news depending on individual circumstances, this will also be challenging for students and staff who will not be able to finish the year in-person as they had deeply hoped and deserve. As much as we miss being with the children, we can only imagine how much they miss being with each other. With that always in mind, we will continue to do our best to engage their hearts and minds in stimulating conversations and activities that support both learning and our much-needed sense of connection and community.

Parents, we understand how frustrating this is for you, especially the parents of our youngest students, with work responsibilities of your own and children at home to support, engage and keep healthy, physically and emotionally while still trying to care for yourselves. We will continue to support you all, students, parents, faculty, and staff as best we can from afar.

At this point in time, we do not know what may be possible about offering “short, outdoor graduation celebrations” as announced during yesterday’s government announcement. We have just learned this information and are now awaiting further information from the province on parameters for outdoor gatherings, along with guidance from Toronto Public Health, prior to making any decision on these events. As soon as more information is available, we will provide another update.

We will collect JICS personal electronic devices, library books, learning materials, etc., from families with children in Grade 1-6 on Monday, June 21 from 12:00-5:00pm. Teachers will have any remaining personal items ready for pick up at that time as well. More information will be sent in the days ahead.

We know how difficult this school year has been for everyone and we want to thank you for your understanding and support. These challenges have impacted all of us differently, but we remain committed to supporting each other in any way we can as we approach the end of the school year and beyond.

Please contact us with any questions.

2. Statement from the JICS Lab School on the discovery at the Kamloops Indian Residential School

Our hearts are heavy as we mourn the 215 children found at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School. It is impossible to comprehend this tragedy and yet Indigenous people have known this reality and others and they have been ignored. This news is a stark reminder of the violence inflicted by the residential school system and the wounds and trauma carried by communities, families, and survivors into the present. From 1831 until the last Indian residential school closed in 1996, over 150,000 children between the ages of 4-16 were forcibly separated from their families. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada concluded that residential schools were a "systematic, government-sponsored attempt to destroy Aboriginal cultures and languages".

The intergenerational harm and trauma of residential schools is not only a part of our history, it is ongoing. Anti-Indigenous racism continues to exist today in countless forms. Indigenous people have been aware of the children who were hurt and died at residential schools and as a society, we haven't listened. We need to listen now.

As a school and a community JICS strives to instill the values of a just society, one that honours and respects all people. We join the call for Canadians to implement all 94 Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). The work of the JICS Natural Curiosity Program is a reaction to the TRC calls to action. We are committed to supporting public school educators and students with learning about the true history of our country but also about the importance of knowing and benefiting from Indigenous perspectives and understandings. We will continue to work with Indigenous members of our community to ensure we are doing all that we can in a good way.

We must join together to acknowledge and mourn, and yet this alone is not enough. We must also bring about action, education, and justice. We ask that all JICS parents and faculty read or reread the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report and continue to educate themselves about anti-Indigenous racism by consulting Indigenous voices. "Our leaders must not fear this onus of reconciliation. The burden is not theirs to bear alone; rather, reconciliation is a process that involves all parties." Justice Murray Sinclair, TRC Chair. Dr. Cindy Blackstock, member of the Gitxsan First Nation, Associate Professor at the University of Alberta, and Executive Director of First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada, talks about accountability for residential schools and ending discrimination in this CBC interview: What could accountability for residential schools look like? Dr. Blackstock and The Caring Society invite participation in a social movement to make a difference in the lives of First Nations children and their families. They offer these seven campaigns to meaningfully help address disadvantages and promote culturally-based equity for Indigenous children, 7-Free Ways to Make a Difference.

3. Statement from OISE Dean Glen Jones on the discovery at the Kamloops Indian Residential school

The Ontario Institute for Studies in Education is appalled and devastated to learn of the discovery of human remains from 215 Indigenous children at the Kamloops Indian Residential School. We share in the anger and grief felt by our Indigenous faculty, students, staff and alumni, and pledge to lend our care and support to all of our community members as we navigate the trauma and loss from this grim discovery.

This discovery of an unmarked gravesite for indigenous children who had been removed from their parents and communities and died in the custody of public policy is a horrendous reminder of the violence of settler colonialism. This is our history; this is the truth that underscores the need for reconciliation, but it is also our present as we recognize the ongoing violence and dispossession faced by Indigenous peoples. Across Canada, communities from the Mi’qmak and Wet’suwet’en, continue to face repression for defending their lands and practicing their treaty rights. Dozens of First Nations communities still do not have access to safe and clean drinking water, and, in the last four months, 11 Indigenous children died while in the care of Ontario’s child welfare system.

We must remember the children that became invisible within a residential school system, and who went “missing” only to be discovered in an unmarked gravesite. We must remember that this took place in the name of education. We must be unwavering in our commitment to furthering reconciliation through our teaching, research and advocacy. This violence must end.