Reflecting on Greenwood’s Week of Reconciliation and Orange Shirt Day
Written by Jillian Fabian ‘21, Diversity Committee Member
Discussing and educating students about the importance of Reconciliation Week is one of the most important initiatives that the Diversity Committee leads during the school year.
This year, Reconciliation Week ran from September 28 to October 2 and focused on education and starting conversations. Reconciliation Week encourages Indigenous and non-Indigenous individuals to come together to honour and pay tribute to Residential School survivors, their families and communities.
On September 30, Greenwood participated in Orange Shirt Day. This day brings awareness to the impacts that residential schools, and the actions of the Canadian government and the churches who ran these schools, had on Indigenous peoples. Orange Shirt Day falls in late September because this would be right around the time Indigenous children would be stripped from their homes and taken to residential schooling against their will.
This year, the Diversity Committee set out to ensure that the importance and relevance of this week did not go unnoticed. The committee spent weeks planning different initiatives that would ensure every student at Greenwood would be educated about the importance of reconciliation and have time to share their thoughts about the topic.
Reconciliation Week started off with two guest speakers. Alexandra Biron ‘11, Manager, Deloitte Indigenous and Margaret Froh, President, Métis Nation of Ontario, both joined Greenwood virtually. They both helped to begin our school-wide conversation about the ongoing effects of colonialism and the damage done by residential schools, and how we can learn from the mistakes of the past.
Alexandra, a Greenwood alumna, spoke to the students about her role as the Manager of Deloitte Indigenous and her focus on the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action. Margaret is the current President of the Métis Nation of Ontario; she spoke about the history of Métis culture and how everyone needs to work together to reflect on the history of Canada in order to spark conversations that will lead to a better future.
The Diversity Committee also created many slides for the digital screens around the school for students to read while walking to class. These screens presented information about Reconciliation Week, important quotes, facts and pictures.
Lastly, the Diversity and OE Committee teamed up to announce the change of the Greenwood mascot name. The mascot, formerly nicknamed “Chief” will now go by its original name, “The Greenwood Grizzly”. This will ensure that no harmful or offensive terms and labels are being used to represent a title in our community.
All in all, the Diversity Committee spent many hours planning various events for Reconciliation Week to ensure that the whole population of Greenwood would learn more about the need for reconciliation and to allow for conversations about these events in the Greenwood community.