Staff and students throughout the Sudbury Catholic District School Board joined hundreds of others across Canada by participating in Orange Shirt Day on Wednesday, September 30, 2020.
By wearing orange shirts, we recognize the harm the residential school system did to children’s sense of self-esteem and well-being and it serves as a symbol of our commitment to reconciliation. Since it began in 2013, the phrase “Every Child Matters” has been used as part of the movement to recognize the value of every child and for communities to come together.
“The Sudbury Catholic District School Board firmly believes that every child matters and as such we will continue to honour Orange Shirt Day year after year,” said Joanne Bénard, Director of Education. “We are committed to Truth and Reconciliation and we strive to find opportunities for our staff and students to come together in support of intercultural understanding, empathy, and mutual respect.”
Orange Shirt Day is an opportunity for First Nations, local governments, schools and communities to come together in the spirit of reconciliation and hope for generations of children to come. Orange Shirt Day recognizes the harm the residential school system did to children’s sense of self-esteem and well-being, and is an affirmation of our commitment to ensure that everyone around us matters.
The Sudbury Catholic District School Board participated in Orange Shirt Day on September 30, 2019. Staff and students throughout the system participated by wearing these shirts or their favourite orange shirt as a reminder of the importance of this day.
In honouring the significance of treaties and the treaty relationship, we have two students helping to raise a special flag in our front foyer. Madison Solomon and Hannah Morningstar are both descendants of Chief Shawenekezhik, a signatory to the Robinson Huron Treaty of 1850. In raising the flag with Madison and Hannah, we would like to acknowledge that we are in the Robinson Huron Treaty territory. St. Charles College also acknowledges this treaty relationship on our announcements every morning.
St. Charles College Student Dana Lewis was crowned Miss Wiikwemkoong during the Wiikwemkoong Cultural Festival in August. Dana, who is the goalie for the St. Charles College Girls Hockey team used her hockey skills in the talent portion of the pageant. She also won first place in the biography portion helping her to earn her Crown. Dana stated that she is very excited and honoured to represent her community at various events, celebrations and pow wows as Miss Wiikwemkoong. She was invited to speak about the missing and murdered Indigenous Women at the Sisters in Spirit Conference in October.
In Dana’s biography she wrote: “Giving back to the community is a big part of who I am. At a young age I was provided with the teachings and knowledge for sewing and over the past years I started teaching young girls ages 7-12 how to sew. I facilitate many workshops showing the youth how to make their own regalia, hand drum bags, ribbon skirts. By teaching these youth, I’m passing down my knowledge of our culture for the next generation. I believe that we should be encouraging our next generations to continue with these teachings so they can teach the next ones. This is who I am, a daughter, sister, auntie, teammate, role model, teacher. I believe that becoming a leader takes time, and that Miss Wiikwemikoong will provide me with the experience to one day be a strong leader for my community, my people, my nation.”
St. Charles College is proud and honoured to celebrate Dana’s triumph with her, her family and community.
St. Charles College hosted their first ever powwow in honour of Indigenous Education Week! Powwows are traditionally a gathering of Indigenous Peoples to come together and celebrate with song, dance, food and storytelling.
Many students, teachers and community members from a variety of Sudbury Catholic Schools gathered together on St. Charles College’s football field to participate in traditional dancing and music and feasted on Indigenous inspired cuisine. The students loved the opportunity to learn and celebrate this culture!
Grade 10 student Hannah Morningstar is about to be the “face of Naig”. NAIG is the North American Indigenous Games and she will be featured on posters and banners to promote the event in Toronto this summer.
Hannah will be in Toronto tomorrow to see the pictures taken last year as part of a news conference for the games. She has participated in the games in 2014 as a track and field athlete. This time, she is hoping to qualify for track or volleyball. The tryouts are taking place right now.
This semester, Hannah is taking Indigenous Studies. She beams with pride when talking about representing her country and culture. “This is such an honour” she says.
The games being held in July will bring more than four thousand athletes to Toronto.
Recently our secondary schools students had an opportunity to attend a sweat lodge building and ceremony as part of the “Bundle Roots Program”. The event was hosted by Indigenous Education Secondary Support staff & teachers. At this event we had students from various cultures take part. The turnout was great and the weather was wonderful. There were three secondary schools that took part in this activity. The Sweat lodge was held on Atikameksheng Anishnawbek territory.
The sweat lodge is a structure, which is dome shaped made using natural materials given to us by the land. sweat lodges are used by Indigenous people on Turtle Island for ceremonial prayers. The ceremony and traditions associated with the sweat lodge vary from region to region but are similar in nature.
Students were able to partake in constructing the sweat lodge which was a rich learning experience for all staff and students. All the young men and women took part in constructing the sweat lodge. The Elders were both helpful and insightful for the youth and the staff, and shared their knowledge.
We completed our very full day with a very delicious feast, along with a spirit plate given back to our sacred helpers during this ceremony.
The Sudbury Catholic District School Board hosted a secondary Powwow on June 1st 2016 at St. Benedict School. This was an opportunity for our Indigenous community to share their culture with non-Indigenous community members. Some of the dancers at the Powwow were secondary school students who attend our schools. It was exciting for our participants to see the dancers. Students were also able to share their culture and the style of dance. Those who partook in this event were able to celebrate Indigenous tradition and culture.
Through SCDSB we integrate First Nations, Métis, and Inuit cultures, history and perspectives in our curriculum. As an indigenous support worker we try to bridge gaps between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students. Having a celebration like this brings people together.
The Pow wow celebration was our first this year for our Catholic secondary schools. Many of those who attended the Powwow have never experienced a cultural activity such as this. It is with hope that with the continued support of secondary staff we can strive for more exposure of First Nations, Inuit and Metis Culture. Our students and faculty were given the opportunity to see dancers in full regalia. The students shared songs and the drumming was breathtaking Miigwetch.
It’s National Aboriginal Day and here at St. Charles College we not only embrace all cultures but we also celebrate the diverse culture and unique heritage of our First Nation, Inuit and Metis people. This day also marks the Summer Solstice.
Two weeks ago, a number of our students participated in a pow wow aimed to bring children from all four school boards together in song and dance.
The “Honouring our Youth” Pow Wow was also an opportunity for our SCC students to showcase their talents.
Students who are part of the Paul Martin Aboriginal Initiative at St. Charles College were given a task first semester – develop a business by finding a niche in the market. Second semester, they massaged the plan by creating a sound business plan.
The teachers of the program, Paola Gutscher and Jason Michelutti mentored the students and provided them with educational outings tailored to their plan.
The outcome was tremendous – fish hatchery business, a T-Comics (Tribal Comics) company, a business that caters to seniors to assist with cooking and lawn care and the list goes on.
The program is geared towards Aboriginal students interested in business and will run again next year.