National Truth and Reconciliation Week

Posted on Tuesday October 10, 2023
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In recognition of Truth and Reconciliation Week from September 25th to 29th, students from every school at the Renfrew County District School Board (RCDSB) participated in impactful learning opportunities surrounding Truth and Reconciliation. Events included an interactive session with students and Indigenous Senators from the Senate of Canada; traditional teachings with the Algonquin Way Cultural Centre; partnership projects with local Indigenous community members; and, Orange Shirt Day assemblies. 

“As a District, Truth and Reconciliation week is a time for us to learn, reflect, and celebrate the resilience of Indigenous Peoples, and commit to the 94 Calls to Action,” says Tina Nelson, Vice-Principal of Indigenous Education at the RCDSB. “It is a reminder for staff and students that reconciliation is not just something we talk about for one week, but something we must work towards as a school community throughout the year.” 

To kick off the week, students and staff had the opportunity to attend a virtual discussion with Cathy Phannenhour, a member of Big Grassy River First Nation Treaty 3, and a Sixties Scoop Survivor. Cathy shared with students and staff her experience as a survivor and the difficult journey she took to discover her true identity.

Photo: Cathy Phannenhour speaks to RCDSB students and staff during her virtual presentation. 

On Thursday, Sept 28th, approximately 1600 students from over 60 classrooms across the RCDSB participated in a virtual event with three Indigenous Senators, from the Senate of Canada. Students had the rare and exceptional opportunity to ask questions and listen to the reflections of Senator Michele Audette (Quebec), Senator Margaret Dawn Anderson, and Senator Judy White. They spoke with truth and authenticity of their journey to become a Senator, their role as a Senator, reflections on reconciliation, and the changes they are working to see in the future. Five students came on screen to ask questions after hearing moving introductions from each Senator. 


The virtual event was beautifully moderated by RCDSB Indigenous Trustee Christina Ruddy, Fellowes High School student Kaitlyn Cliche-Wagner, and assisted by Indigenous Education Coach, Amy Charboneau, and SENgage event coordinator Eliza Moratz from the Senate of Canada. The event was organized when former Opeongo High School Student, Eliza Moratz, reached out to the RCDSB through the Director’s Office, who worked with the RCDSB Indigenous Education Team to plan the scope. “Our goal was to include as many students as possible, to empower our learners with the limitless potential for them to achieve, as exemplified by the inspiring Indigenous Senators of Canada,” said Meredith Caplan Jamieson, Executive Officer of Public Affairs. “We were awed that such a huge number of students and teachers were able to participate.”

Photo: Students at Valour JK-12 School attend virtual Q&A with Indigenous Senators. 


In partnership with the Omàmiwininì Pimàdjwowin Algonquin Way Cultural Centre, Mr. Wright’s foods class at Renfrew Collegiate Institute (RCI) cooked up a feast of traditional Indigenous foods like bannock, moose stew, three sisters soup, cedar tea, and strawberry juice.

Willy Dick and Tanisha Barberstock assisted the class by demonstrating how these foods are traditionally prepared and performed a blessing before lunch.




Photos: RCI’s Foods Class cooks up traditional Indigenous foods with assistance from Willy Dick and Tanisha Barberstock from the Omàmiwininì Pimàdjwowin Algonquin Way Cultural Centre. 

Throughout the week students and staff spent time learning about the 94 Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, with the goal of acknowledging the full, horrifying history of the residential schools system, and creating systems to prevent these abuses from ever happening again. 

Most schools gathered on Friday, September 29th, to recognize both Orange Shirt Day and the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation (September 30th).

Photo: Indigenous Graduation Coach Trevor Pearce and Algonquin Community member Joanne Haskins held a drumming circle and smudging ceremony at Fellowes High School to honour survivors, and remember the many children who did not make it home from residential schools.  

Photo: Students from Fellowes High School start their “Reconciliation” mosaic as a sign of the school’s commitment to the 94 Calls to Action. 


Photo: Students from Eganville and District Public School, along with Algonquin Language Teacher Michele Whiteduck, performed her song called “Let’s Sing For The Children.” Michele wrote this song last year, and the group also performed it at the 2022 National Day for Truth and Reconciliation assembly on Parliament Hill. 


Photo: Students from Mackenzie Community School took the day to learn about residential schools, and the 94 Calls to Action, and created an “Every Child Matters” wall display. The artwork is meant to represent the many Indigenous children who were victims of residential schools and serves as a visual reminder in their school that “reconciliation” is not just a week-long endeavour. 


For more information, please contact: 


Hannah MacMillan

Renfrew County District School Board

Communications Officer

613-433-2305 ext. 2215