Truro Junior High School in Nova Scotia is a culturally diverse school with students from town and surrounding First Nations. So when a substitute educational assistant made a remark about residential school survivors, students were shocked.
“We’re reading through the textbook and the man was, the sub was telling us that as natives we need to forgive and forget what happened in the residential schools, to make our future better and he kept making comments like that,” said Jaici Syliboy, a grade seven student in the class.
Students immediately reported the teacher and parents were called to meet with school officials.
Jo-lene Marr, a parent who has a child in the school, said she’s impressed with how quickly the school acted and is working to combat racism.
She said education is key so people can understand what Indigenous people have endured.
“I was glad that when I came to the school, the gentleman was already off the premises um more so because I probably would have like to educate him myself,” said Marr.
The school board said it has programs to teach educators culturally sensitivity, and to be respectful.
Jennifer Rodgers of the Chignecto Central Regional Centre for Education says hurtful comments are not tolerated.
And boards need to react swiftly when an incident takes place.
“To acknowledge the incident, to validate the student’s feelings and to restore trust and confidence and safety back in the school.
Syliboy said young people need to stand up to racism, and know the true history of residential schools.
“We don’t need to forgive and forget we can, we don’t need to dwell on it, but we can we don’t forget it because that’s what made us who we are and that’s what made our Elders who they are,” she said.
According to the board, the substitute educational assistant is being dealt with by human resources.
The board did not say what kind of discipline the teacher would face.