Commemorating the National Day of Remembrance for Truth and Reconciliation

Today, on the National Day of Remembrance for Truth and Reconciliation, students and staff across our campuses are participating in activities to honour those that survived and those that were lost as a result of the residential school system, their families, and communities. We believe that engagement, empowerment and understanding are the first steps towards furthering reconciliation. With awareness comes education and with education comes the opportunity for action.

At our Burlington campus, the student council came together to honour those affected by residential schools by creating a paper tree where students can write messages of hope for a better future together. These messages along with donations will help support the Orange Shirt Society in support of Indigenous residential school reconciliation.

Last week, Blyth Academy@CIHA took part in a day of learning. “Our students participated in an afternoon of activities to learn and raise awareness about Truth and Reconciliation. The students took part in a wonderful Indigenous drumming workshop, viewed an educational presentation, and made Bannock, a traditional Indigenous bread,” said Principal Sue Kelly. Learning these customs has a huge impact on our students, giving them a glimpse into the Indigenous culture and promoting a deeper understanding and mutual respect for our indigenous communities.

Other campuses are commemorating today by wearing orange for Orange Shirt Day. Virtual events are taking place across our school communities where students will be introduced to
Indigenous community elders to gain an Indigenous perspective on current issues. Others are looking into the history of colonialism in Canada and continuing their conversations on Indigenous histories.

We understand the importance of continuing these teaching beyond today. Blyth Academy The Glebe has been an active participant in The Legacy Schools program through the Downie/Wenjack Fund (DWF) since 2019. They are committed to engaging, empowering, and connecting students and educators with further reconciliation through awareness, education, and action. “We signed up for the program to bring awareness to the interests, rights, and perspectives of Indigenous peoples, and to make sure that they are recognized and implemented in our daily learning,” says Principal Kirsty Larose. “Our goal is for students to continue this important conversation and to take steps, as future leaders, towards transmitting this knowledge to aid in our collective reconciliation journey.”

Though our physical doors remain temporarily closed, the minds of our students stay open. Summer classes are continuing to meet on their regular daily schedules, in virtual classrooms with face-to-face instruction and peer interaction.  The Blyth Academy model of small class sizes, flexible scheduling and individualized approach have enabled us to remain faithful to our standards. Our commitment to ongoing and meaningful communication between school, teachers, students and families has been critical to this effort.

Although our students have transitioned into summer mode and COVID-19 restrictions have begun to loosen, we are looking ahead to what September will hold for our campuses and families.
We want to be clear - our preference and our priority is to get students back to our campuses, but we must ensure this is done in a safe and effective way. While we await official guidance from Public Health and the Ministry of Education, a "return to school" task force has been hard at work putting concrete operational plans in place for all likely scenarios. This includes a full return to campus with safeguards, a blended model of virtual and in-campus learning and the continuation of fully virtual classrooms. All scenarios will provide robust learning and live, daily instruction and interaction with teachers and peers. 
With ten campuses across Ontario, we realize that each one of our schools is a unique space and community. We will be implementing across-the-board policies on hand washing, facility cleaning and social distancing measures. Each school is also prepared to pivot individually based on the guidance of local health authorities and to best serve students and families. 
Our recent survey showed that over 80 per cent of Blyth Academy families are eager to return to campuses, and we are hard at work to prepare for this day. As September's scenario becomes clearer and more information becomes available, we will continue to communicate. 

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