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Blog: Tuesday, October 26th, 2021

Teachings at Abby Middle

“Ey kwesé e’mi to the LLC! Please walk ON the cedar and take a seat at the front.”

After students and staff had followed these instructions, they were reminded of the significance of the cedar for the week’s teachings at Abby Middle. Designed to ground one's spirit, the cedar encouraged staff and students to have an open heart, open mind, and listen to the teachings.

The Library Learning Commons teacher and Indigenous Success teacher then tackled the difficult and extremely personal nature of the Truth and Reconciliation process. Through a weeklong series of presentations, students and staff discussed the effect that residential schools have on Indigenous children and families across generations and also on the local communities and Indigenous cultures. Students and staff experienced the uncomfortable truths from the 100 Years of Loss, a resource that speaks to the intentional deprivation Indigenous nations have experienced since the inception of the first residential school in Quebec in 1620. While most students and staff have experienced some education around the traumatic removal of children from their homes, they also began to understand the destructive results of being denied the right to pass on a sense of family, social norms, culture, and civilization with the following generations. Students and staff could see an array of tangible cultural items, briefly experience some of the teachings and techniques around these items, and understand how these artifacts were ripped away from Indigenous peoples, particularly when they arrived at residential schools. Although there was a targeted and intentional plan to destroy Indigenous culture and artifacts, the items helped convey the resiliency and survival of Indigenous peoples.

Truth and Reconciliation week held a special significance at Abby Middle. Students and staff began to understand the magnitude of the loss of the comfort, care and community to Indigenous nations across Turtle Island. Now, the conversation must continue beyond Truth and Reconciliation Week. This process comes with the hope that students and staff have had an awakening and understand that they have an active role to play in reconciliation.

GRAEME KEMP
Vice Principal, Abbotsford Middle School