By: Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald
The Saskatchewan Rivers School Division board of education has adopted the practice of having a Land Acknowledgement before each board meeting by the chair.
Typically, this has stuck to a predetermined script, but as the Board has worked with the Elder’s Council and the journey towards reconciliation has evolved, this practice has come to feel like it’s not enough.
At their regular meeting on Monday there was discussion about expanding the practice to every trustee. Superintendent Garette Tebay said the idea was important.
“That’s kind of our next step in our pathway towards reconciliation,” Tebay said. “Some of the board is very aware of the work that they want to do and to reconcile and to answer the calls to action of the TRC.”
The Board decided that not only call trustees all provide the Land Acknowledgement on behalf of the Board during regular meetings but, trustees would also strive to include a personal commitment to Truth and Reconciliation in their Land Acknowledgement.
She said it is part of making the process more connected than the formal script and having any trustee who is comfortable reading a personal Land Acknowledgement. Board Chair Darlene Rowden will already be sending out a calendar for trustees to select months. The idea also cropped up before it was formalized at the meeting.
“For example, at a recent community event when Darlene did the land acknowledgment, she told the story about the people that used her farmland for hunting and giving permission for that,” Tebay explained. “She’s never thought about that through a lens of reconciliation but that it is sharing of the land.”
Tebay added that it would allow a closer connection as opposed to being predetermined scripts.
“I think that goes to show the like the openness to our board to what their pathways to reconciliation would be. It also, I think, speaks volumes to the work that our board does with our Elders Council as well,” Tebay said.
The Elders Council was also involved in the first Pipe Ceremony at a rural school in Birch Hills on May 1.
“Because the Elder’s Council was there for that and the Elders Council meeting afterwards that, they stayed on in the school for the rest of the day and were able to work with kids and connect with community that way as well,” Tebay said.
“It was just a beautiful way of being able to, to bring the whole school in as part of that process,” she added.