More than 500 students from five elementary schools in the Holy Trinity Catholic School Division (HTCSD) attended and participated in events at the 2nd annual Every Child Matters powwow, said Vivian Gauvin, co-ordinator of student services with the division.
The event was organized by the Wakamow Aboriginal Community Association (WACA) and hosted by the Western Development Museum in Moose Jaw on September 29 and 30 and October 1 (although the final day ended up cancelled due to heavy rain.)
Gauvin has been part of organizing powwow events with WACA since 2012, when she and Isabelle Hanson helped bring powwow back to Moose Jaw for the first time in 20 years.
"I sit on the WACA powwow committee, and this was the first time that WACA was going to host a three-day powwow event," Gauvin explained in an interview with MooseJawToday.com. "That took a lot of organizing and planning and help from the community, and we decided to host a special event for Moose Jaw students as part of that. So, it was seamless for me to combine my roles and make sure that all of the Holy Trinity Catholic schools were invited to this special event."
HTCSD has repeatedly affirmed their commitment to Truth and Reconciliation and to honouring the national Truth and Reconciliation Committee's Calls to Action. They have taken steps such as holding school assemblies for National Indigenous Peoples' Day in close consultation with local Indigenous groups and leaders such as knowledge keeper Lyndon Linklater and prominent Indigenous speaker and activist Brad Bellegarde.
"As you know, September 30th is National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, but is also known as Orange Shirt Day. The orange shirts have become a symbol of hope and by wearing them, we are making a promise to do better. We are learning and acknowledging that residential schools are a part of our history in Canada," Gauvin said.
"This is the third year that Holy Trinity Catholic School Division recognized the day by taking the time to honour the children who didn’t come home. We remembered the students, survivors, their families, and also the communities."
At the Western Development Museum, elementary students listened to stories and learned from various Indigenous artists, singers, dancers, and storytellers like Lana Hebert, Brittnee Prettyshield, and Bellegarde, among others.
Gauvin called the honouring of Orange Shirt Day a "moral obligation" and noted that HTCSD's participation fulfilled #80 and #62 of the 94 Calls to Action.
"Murray Sinclair, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission chair, has been quoted saying that 'education got us into this mess and education will get us out of it.' And so we are here to support his words and agree that education is the key to reconciliation."
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