Topics covered in this post:
Ontario Government Decision Regarding School
Statement from the JICS Lab School on the discovery at the Kamloops Indian Residential School
Statement from OISE Dean Glen Jones on the discovery at the Kamloops Indian Residential School
Music Night 2021 - Tonight at 6:30pm
Pride Day - Thursday, June 10
Lab School Teacher shares lessons on TVOKids Power Hour of Learning
Parent Ed on Kids and COVID-19 Vaccine
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.
A National Indian Residential School Crisis Line has been set up to provide support for former students and those affected. Emotional and crisis referral services can be accessed by calling the 24-hour national crisis line: 1-866-925-4419.
Additional resources available at the University of Toronto are referred to in the Statement from UofT President Meric Gertler
4. Music Night 2021
TONIGHT | 6:30pm
Tune in on our school YouTube page at 6:30pm sharp for the JICS Music Night - 2021 style! The event will run approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes. Watch until the end for a special staff performance!
It will be a Music Night that's a little different from what we are used to. This year's event will feature every group of children in our school from Nursery to Grade 6. We will be sharing recordings of their performances on Zoom during distance-education (JK to Grade 6) that include songs, movement, and compositions by our students themselves. The Nursery children’s performance was filmed “on location” at the school! The evening will also have some guest appearances, tributes to special people, and beautiful photos of the children and our staff. All in all, it will be an opportunity for us to come together as a community and celebrate the unusual, challenging 2020-21 school year that still brings us so many gifts.
To watch Music Night, all you need to do is click on the link below to view it from the JICS YouTube page. We recommend setting up a device prior to 6:30pm with external speakers or by connecting it to a TV if possible, to ensure everyone in your family can hear and see the entirety of this event. This will not be something you want to miss!
5. Pride Day
Thursday, June 10
On Thursday, June 10 we invite all children to express their “inner-Mermaid”, their passion, their unique and perfect identity in whichever and whatever way they would like as we celebrate JICS PRIDE Day together.
6. Lab School Teacher shares lessons on TVOKids Power Hour of Learning
On May 13th, we wrote about our JK Teacher, Marcia Bumbury who was asked to be a teacher on TVOKids Power Hour of Learning, hour-long learning "lessons" developed by educators in support of the Ontario curriculum. Marica had the opportunity to film two lessons this week on Counting to 50 (Recovering Earth's Wisdom) and Fair Share Problems (Special Family Celebrations). The episode has now aired and can be viewed at this link: https://youtu.be/J49ldvjdA00
7. Parent Ed on Kids and the COVID-19 Vaccine
Monday, June 7 | 12:30-1:30pm
Children's Healthcare Canada will be hosting a Virtual Town Hall on June 7 at 12:30 - 1:30 pm to answer parent’s questions about COVID-19 vaccinations for children. The speakers are fantastic and the event is run by a very well respected Canadian Paediatric Organization affiliated with all the major children’s hospitals.
8. Ask Ellie!
Dear JICS family, It has been a hard week. News about the residential schools, learning yesterday that we will not return to in-person schooling. It all feels quite heavy. We are also celebrating Pride Month and thinking toward end of year celebrations. In Week 5 of Ask Ellie, we have an important question about supporting health body image. As well as our weekly smile.
I have a 7-year-old and a 9-year-old who love food. We want to encourage them to have a positive relationship with eating and support a healthy body image. When my partner's parents visit (they are in our bubble), their grandmother will often make comments that cause me to cringe. She is very well-intentioned but will say things like "I can't have dessert, it will go straight to my hips!" and now I notice that my kids are asking "Am I too fat?". I want my kids to feel good about their bodies. Do you have any ideas about how to address this with my mother-in-law and how we can continue to support my kids feeling good about food and themselves?
Dear Seeking Ideas to Support Healthy Body Image,
I love this question. We often have a complicated relationship with food and the comments that parents (and grandparents!) make about eating and bodies can have an impact on how we see ourselves and think about food. Starting when your kids are young to create a positive culture around body size and eating can be a protective factor for the future. It sounds like it is necessary to have a conversation with your partner's parents in a direct and kind way to set a firm boundary about those comments. You can let your in-laws know that you understand that there is no ill intent, and that you want to foster a positive culture in your home around food and body-image. Taking a deep breath and talking with your partner first to make sure you are both on the same page, may be a good way to get ready for this conversation. Often, we are hesitant to set limits with our families, and my experience is that when you are able to have these conversations in a calm way, it will usually go well.
If the f word (fat) comes up with your kids, it can be tricky to know how to respond. Often the best approach is to be neutral. If your child asks if they are too fat, you might start with being curious about what does fat mean to them. Before reassuring it will be helpful to understand if there is a specific worry or experience your child had that you need to unpack further. You could say something like: "Bodies are all different sizes and that is okay." Having conversations with children about all kinds of diversity, by naming this and describing it is important. In the same way you might talk about the fact that people have different colour skin or that in some families there are two moms, or two dads, you can also talk about how bodies come in all shapes and sizes and that difference is something to be celebrated. Approaches such as intuitive eating have been shown to be associated with lower BMI and better psychological health. In a July 2019 article in Parents Magazine there is a helpful description of how intuitive eating principles such as respecting your child's hunger cues, not having rules about amount of food your child eats, not labelling food as good or bad and "checking your own baggage", can be useful strategies.
This is a short answer to a good question and there is much more to be said about this that can't be fully addressed in this post. It is clear that you are thoughtful and compassionate about navigating these topics with your family. Thank you for raising this as an important issue and I'm sending you and your family warm thoughts.
What is one way we know the ocean is friendly?
SUBMIT YOUR QUESTIONS!
Looking forward to your questions, parents, kids, teachers and all. Email me at
9. Upcoming June Events - PRIDE Month & National Indigenous History Month
Mon 7 – Children's Healthcare Canada: Kids & the COVID-19 Vaccine (Register)
Thurs 10 – JICS PRIDE Day
Fri 11 – Parent Information Post Talks. 9:30 - 10:00am (Zoom link)
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