Wolf Creek Public Schools (WCPS) will recognize the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on Sept. 30 by closing schools on that day.
The board of trustees, following consultations with First Nations’ leaders and elders, principals, schools, and the Alberta Teachers Association, made the decision during the Aug. 31 board meeting.
Sept. 30 will be a “non-operational” day across the division, meaning there will be no classes and schools will be closed for the day. The division’s calendar has been adjusted to reflect the change.
The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is a new federal holiday that will be marked for the first time this year. The Government of Alberta has not declared Sept. 30 as a statutory holiday in the province.
“Although this was proclaimed as only a federal holiday and does not automatically apply to all organizations and businesses across the country, Wolf Creek Public Schools’ Board of Trustees, in close consultations … felt it important to formally mark the day as well,” said a letter to parents from superintendent Tim De Ruyck posted on wolfcreek.ab.ca on Sept. 1.
“This day is meant to recognize and reflect on the survivors of, and the families and communities still impacted by the legacy of residential schools,” he said.
“Marking that history and sharing and learning is key as we move forward, step by step, on the road of reconciliation.”
WCPS has been a strong advocate for Indigenous representation in education, writing a letter to Education Minister Adriana LaGrange in November, 2020, urging the government to include Indigenous content in the curriculum.
The division later announced it would not be piloting the new draft curriculum this fall, in part due to a lack of “adequate representation of foundational knowledge and understanding relating to Indigenous people throughout the grade levels.”
Some schools may need to adjust their schedules to accommodate the closure on Sept. 30. Where required, schools will add an additional two minutes of instructional time to each school day this school year.
WCPS will also have the flexibility of marking the occasion with students and staff throughout Truth and Reconciliation Week from Sept. 27 to Oct. 1.
Activities may include observing Orange Shirt Day and learning around the history of residential schools.