Marymount Academy

Sudbury Catholic District School Board Lowers Flags in Honour of BC Residential School Victims

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The Sudbury Catholic District School Board joins communities across Canada in honouring and praying for the 215 Indigenous children whose bodies were discovered on the grounds of the Kamloops Indian Residential School in Tk-emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation territory. 

To honour their lives, flags at all SCDSB schools and board buildings will be lowered for nine days (May 31-June 8) – a total of 215 hours to represent each of the 215 children. As a sign of our collective mourning, the Board will also be participating in the National moment of silence at 2:15 p.m. today as we honour and acknowledge the children who never returned home.

“Today, we honour the lives of the 215 Indigenous children who will not be coming home. It is a heartbreaking tragedy and while there are no words to truly express the deep mourning those impacted are experiencing, we humbly offer our prayers that they and their families will find healing. We also acknowledge the pain and trauma this brings to all Indigenous peoples across the country, and we recognize the need for ongoing truth and reconciliation. May God continue to watch over the 215 souls and their families,” said Michael Bellmore, Chair of the Board of the Trustees for the Sudbury Catholic District School Board.

“All Sudbury Catholic District School Boards schools and facilities are standing in solidarity with communities across Canada in honouring the 215 Indigenous children. While it is indeed an unspeakable tragedy, we send continued prayers and healing to all those affected and to the Indigenous communities in the Sudbury area and across the country. We have lowered all flags for 215 hours and will join the National moment of silence at 2:15 p.m. As a system, we are also wearing orange shirts on Wednesday, June 2 and will unite in a collective prayer service as a reminder that every child matters,” said Joanne Bénard, Director of Education for the Sudbury Catholic District School Board.

Every Child Matters: Sudbury Catholic Schools Honours Orange Shirt Day

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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.”

Honouring Reconciliation: Sudbury Catholic Schools Participate in Orange Shirt Day

A group of girls wear their orange shirts and stand in a line.

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.

Connecting to the land

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.

Dancing under the sun

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.

Sharing Indigenous Arts and Culture at MMA

On Friday January 18, 2016, Marymount Academy had the pleasure of spending some of their afternoon with special guest Lisa Marie Naponse. Their guest was introduced by two very confident young women, students Tyanna Soucy and Hailey Organ. These two ladies are currently representatives of the Aniisinaabe Cultural group here at Marymount Academy which is organized in collaboration with Carla Petahtegoose, the SCDSB Indigenous Education Support Worker. Lisa Marie is a self-taught singer and songwriter from Atikameksheng Anishinawbek. She shared her art and music which is a blend of blues, folk, and country. During her visit with Marymount she engaged the students in song and rhythm. Lisa shared with the students that as she was growing up, she was surrounded by music and creativity her mother and father played music and her sisters were pow wow dancers and craftswomen. Lisa speaks to people through music on indigenous life and her experiences as an Anishnawbe Kwe(Woman). Lisa quickly embraced the microphone community; which lead her to eventually co-founding an Indigenous Arts Collective that showcased Indigenous performances and art throughout the city of Ottawa. Today Lisa Marie has returned to her community and is working on new music and art. Finally, to finish off our assembly Hailey Organ kindly presented a gift on behalf of the Marymount staff and students.

Learning About Residential Schools at MMA

On Friday, May 22, Marymount Academy had Elder, Gert Nootchtai come and speak about her residential school experience. Students TiCarra Paquet, and Starr Trudeau, along with aboriginal support worker, Carla Petahtegoose coordinated the event. Students from Gr 9 – 12  were able to shed some light on a very dark part of Canadian history. Elder Nootchtai spoke about how she wasn’t allowed to speak her language, or practice her culture  at residential school, there were punishments in place according to what you did. Elder Nootchtai shared most of the time she did what she was told to avoid punishments . She also touched upon the “1960’s scoop,” when aboriginal youth were taken from their families by Indian Agents hired by the government, and then put into the residential schools or child protective services. At times  her memory is unclear if her guardians were aware of what was happening or if they just took her to school without consent. On a lighter note she did mention some fun activities for her at Spanish Residential School was when the Native teacher was hired and she took them outdoors for walks a lot and the kids would always sign up for this to get out of school. Following Elder Nootchtai’s shared experience, staff and students participated in an activity that allowed students to experience what it felt like to be removed from a community. of Residential School survivors.  In recognizing the trauma and historical truths of Canadian history, it was a very educational day, and Marymount Academy looks forward to embracing more FNMI culture in the school.

Sharing Best Practice and Honouring Culture

Visitors from the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board were in town on Wednesday, September 29 to learn more about the inclusion of aboriginal culture within the school system. Dufferin-Peel CDSB’s Director of Education John Kostoff, Superintendent Clara Pitoscia and General Manager of Communication and Media Relations, Bruce Campbell visited with administration from the Sudbury Catholic District School Board to discuss the inclusion of aboriginal culture into the teaching and learning practices at the Sudbury Catholic Board. The group visited three of the Sudbury Catholic schools including St. Charles College, St. David Catholic Elementary School and St. Benedict Catholic Secondary School. At each of the sites, the principals, teachers and students spoke about the importance of the presence of aboriginal culture physically in the learning spaces, as well as embedded in their curriculum and teaching.”At Sudbury Catholic, we are so privileged to have key people in place in our organization who are passionate about honouring aboriginal culture in our educational community,” Catherine McCullough, Director of Education for the Sudbury Catholic Board stated. “We always welcome the opportunity to share what we continue to learn, with other Boards across the province.”

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