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Walk Together: Every Child Matters - A Statement from Director Mike McDonald

Dear students, staff and community,

I stand with you today, in solidarity, to honour the 215 children, whose remains were found on the site of the former residential school for Indigenous children in Kamloops, British Columbia. This horrible revelation highlights the continued need for all of us to understand the truth of what happened at residential schools and to work toward reconciliation. This terrible uncovering comes just as we begin to celebrate and recognize National Indigenous History Month across our school district.

I have struggled to find a way to share our Board’s commitment to the goals of Truth and Reconciliation and to honour 215 children. Nothing we do can make up for this tragic loss and we need to move from symbolic actions to genuine awareness. We need to do our best to share this history and live our commitment to the goals of Truth and Reconciliation. In consultation with the Board’s Indigenous Advisors, we have outlined actions and commitments that our Board will demonstrate in an attempt to address this moment in time.

To assist our community in identifying their feelings of grief, sorrow and anger for this terrible occurrence, and to publicly share our support for the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc People, all Brant Haldimand Norfolk Catholic District School Board flags have been lowered and will remain so for 215 hours (9 days), one hour for each child. When you see a half-mast flag, please take a moment to honour the souls of these children.

Each Friday during the month of June will be Orange Shirt Day for our staff and students. We encourage you to wear an orange shirt or piece of clothing to show your support and your commitment.

As well, on Wednesday, June 2, 2021 we invite our Catholic community to place a pair of shoes by your front door. Although sharing on social media is common, we ask that you demonstrate your respect for the lives lost by turning this action inward, and refrain from posting. Placing shoes by your front door is not about showcasing, but rather, is about addressing the truth of the legacy of residential schools and the lives of the 215 children who were lost.

In order to support our students and their families, our teachers are being provided with resources this week and throughout the month of June so that they can provide education and awareness. As we do with potentially emotionally triggering information, this will be done through a trauma-informed lens to ensure that those who are vulnerable get the care and support they need. If you know anyone who is struggling, please reach out to your teacher or to someone on the Supports and Resources list.

Truth and Reconciliation is more than a social media post. For us, it is a conscious commitment to share, educate, and recognize the historical and ongoing wrongs, perpetrated against Indigenous peoples. To support this and to honour the 215 children, we invite our students, staff and community to donate to the Woodland Cultural Centre – Save the Evidence Campaign to Restore Mohawk Institute Residential School ( We believe that supporting the restoration project of one of the last standing Residential Schools in Canada is one way to action our support to ensure the education of generations to come. This simple act to support the preservation of the site of a residential school in our own area, will be a reminder of your unwillingness to accept the atrocities that took place at residential schools during this dark time in our History and help ensure that the truth remains visible to all.

Our hearts are with the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc People and their community. May our outward and inward actions allow us to walk together in our grief and sorrow.

Mike McDonald, Director of Education

Supports and Resources

National Indian Residential School Crisis Line provides 24/7 support for residential school survivors and others who are affected: 1-866-925-4419.

First Nations and Inuit Hope for Wellness Help Line: 1-855-242-3310
Hope for Wellness Help Line in English, Ojibway/Anishinaabemowin, Plains Cree, Inuinnaqtun, Nunavik Ungava, Aipaii Nutaaq, Nunatsiavut, and North Baffin dialects

Six Nations of the Grand River - Children and Youth Mental Health Crisis Line: 519-445-2204

Mental Health Services:

Mississauga of the Credit First Nation - Mental Health Contact and After Hours Support
Monday – Friday 8:30am-4:30pm

Mental Health Unit
For information on other programs and services offered, contact the Program Liaison Worker at 905-768-1181 ext. 224.

Brantford - DE DWA DA DEHS NYE>S- Aboriginal Health Centre
Aboriginal mental health and addictions services provides culturally safe mental health & addictions services for all members of the urban indigenous community in the regions of Hamilton, Brantford/Brant and Niagara. Working with individuals over the age of 6 to provide: counseling, groups, outreach, navigation, case management and peer support.

Brant - Integrated Mental Health Crisis Services
Phone support: 519-759-7188
Walk-in Clinic: 255 Fairview Drive, Unit 1, Brantford

Haldimand-Norfolk- 24 Hour Crisis Services
Phone: 1-866-327-3224

Brant Haldimand Norfolk Catholic District School Board - Student Support Services
School based mental health services aimed at enhancing student success by providing support, skill-building and counselling (social workers) addressing the students’ main area of concern. If more intensive and/or specialized services are required, assistance with community referrals is available. To access this service, speak with your teacher or principal for contact information.