Since 2021, St. Benedict has made a commitment to be a legacy school with the Downie Wenjack Fund which honours a commitment to Truth and Reconciliation.
This year, students in Ms. Dowdall’s Indigenous Studies classes took part in the Truth and Reconciliation Relay hosted by Greater Sudbury Police Service. Additionally, students participated in a fence art project where they created a large mural stating, “Every Child Matters”. Students were able to participate in both events. Their ReconciliACTIONS were complimented with learning about the Residential School System and why they were taking part in the actions. The Honourable Murray Sinclair said, “Education is what got us into this mess, education will get us out.”
Chanie Wenjack died at 12 years old while trying to flee the Residential School he attended in Kenora, Ontario on October 22, 1966. He was trying to make it more than 600kms home.
On Tuesday, October 18th, 2022 the St. Benedict Bears participated in the Walk For Wenjack as part of their commitment as a Legacy School with the Downie Wenjack Fund. St. Benedict CSS became a Legacy School is 2021. The school’s inaugural Walk For Wenjack was blessed having Chanie Wenjack’s niece and DWF Board Member Harriet Visitor join last year.
The St. Benedict Walk includes signage that teaches the Students about the history of Residential Schools, about Chanie Wenjack’s story and shares about the Spanish Residential School where many First Nation People of the area attended, only about an hour drive west from the City of Greater Sudbury. The signage ends with a Challenge to #Do Something to take Reconcili-Action and to remind every Student that they are valued, are important and have a voice.
This year’s walk in 2022 was given a challenge to complete 600 kms, (1 Km per Student), that would have brought Chanie home. With two classes that had been studying the Secret Path, (the story that describes what happened to Chanie), St. Benedict completed their challenge on October 27th, 56 years to the day Chanie was laid to rest. The Secret Path music is also played during the walk, adding to the experience of telling Chanie’s story. Using clothing buttons, a count was kept of every kilometer placed into a jar.
Many Staff and Students assisted to make the event a success including Mr. Sipos and his class who assisted in the Fry Bread and Bologna fundraiser for the DWF. The Diversity Club assisted with giving out cedar tea, strawberry and offering smudge. Ms. Mardero’s class also created an Every Child Matters woven fence art piece.
Adding to the Reconcili-Actions, on September 30th, the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation or Orange Shirt Day, Mr. Labrosse’s St. Benedict Senior Boys Football team was playing a game and assisted in supporting with wearing orange arm bands and by displaying a large Every Child Matters banner behind their bench. Invited to toss the coin at the game that day, was Residential School Survivor Bernard Petahtegoose’s son Barry Petahtegoose. Barry and his Sons are avid football fans like their Dad/Grandpa Bernard (who attended the Spanish Residential School and passed away in 2020). You could feel the respect and energy of the day, the referees also supported wearing an orange band.
Also, on September 30th, classes of Ms. Briscoe and Ms. Mardero’s had opportunity to attend the Grace Hartman Amphitheatre. A thought-provoking play and artistic film, “Truth. Resiliency. Hope.” featuring Indigenous storytelling, music and dance was presented. The event was put on by the Indigenous Community Collective with many community partners. Many Students wore their Orange Shirts in support of learning the Truths that happened here in Canada about Residential Schools and those who attended and were left thinking about what the next era of Canada could look like if we keep doing the work, leaving a message of hope, if we do the work together.
Many thanks to all the Helpers, both Staff and Students alike that have been helping with these events, to make them happen, to prepare and support the Students in your classrooms before and after, for wearing Orange, for participating in the fundraiser, for offering to help. St. Benedict has truly shown their respect to the Survivors and to those who never made it home from those institutions. #EveryChildMatters #WalkForWenjack #reconciliACTION #LegacySchools #DoSomething
The Sudbury Catholic District School Board joined Boards across the province to recognize, learn about and commemorate the legacy of residential schools during the week of September 26-30, 2022.
Throughout our board, we are committed to supporting Indigenous voices, learning what we do not know, and implementing the Calls to Action. Truth and Reconciliation Week 2022is a free national program provided by the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation and is open to all schools across Canada. This year, the theme of the week was ‘Remembering the Children’. Schools across the Board participated in the program throughout the week as they learned about the history of the residential school system and memorialized the children that were lost. Activities featured pre-recorded videos and live question-and-answer sessions.
In addition, students and staff were invited to attend the Truth, Resiliency and Hope event planned by the Indigenous Community Collective at Bell Park. The event commemorated survivors of Residential Schools and acknowledged their unwavering resiliency. The event began with a sunrise ceremony and opening remarks followed by a play entitled Debwewin (Truth) and a short video screening.
All Board students and staff were also invited and encouraged to wear Orange Shirts on September 30 in honour of National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
In addition, schools also completed their own activities, events, and teachings throughout the week. Examples of school-based activities included:
Grade 3 French Immersion class at St. James School participated in a collaborative art project to honour Orange Shirt Day.
Kindergarten classes at Holy Trinity School welcomed Indigenous Support Workers into their classrooms to discuss the importance of Truth and Reconciliation and learn about the four sacred medicines.
Marymount Academy students designed orange shirts to wear and honour National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
St. Benedict C.S.S created a visual display that was made available to staff and students throughout the week. The display included information about Truth and Reconciliation, powerful stories and artwork contributed by students.
“As a system, we continue to find ways to honour and acknowledge Truth and Reconciliation and respond to the Calls of Action. We recognize that reconciliation is not something that can be achieved in one hour, one day, or one week. Rather, we focus on rebuilding relationships with First Nation, Métis, and Inuit peoples and communities daily. The Board supports opportunities for our staff and students to come together in support of intercultural understanding, empathy, and mutual respect,” said Joanne Bénard, Director of Education for the Sudbury Catholic District School Board.
Please see the following video produced by the Board highlighting the various activities:
Further information about Truth and Reconciliation Week provided by the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation can be found at the following link: https://nctr.ca/education/trw/