On a sunny September morning, a small group of school division employees gathered on a rooftop to make history.
In a ceremony led by Don Speidel, the cultural resource liaison for Saskatoon Public Schools, the school division raised the Every Child Matters flag atop the Board of Education office. Located at 21st Street and 3rd Avenue, the flag is flying right in the heart of Saskatoon's downtown.
Traditional Knowledge Keeper Tim Eashappie Sr. spoke about his own history of being taken away from his family at six years old to attend residential school. It was a familiar experience for his family; his grandfather was one of the first children to be sent to residential school in 1883.
While Speidel played an honour song, Eashappie raised the flag to the top of the flagpole as a fall breeze made it soar.
Raising the Every Child Matters flag is one of the actions the school division is taking as part of its commitment to respond to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Calls to Action.
The flag raising kicked off a week dedicated to honouring the lives lost and families impacted by residential schools. On Wednesday, Sept. 29, the school division recognized Orange Shirt Day with all students and staff invited to wear orange. With the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on Thursday, Sept. 30, classes were rescheduled to allow students from prekindergarten to Grade 12 to be with family and attend community events recognizing the day. The division's First Nations, Inuit and Métis Education Unit developed grade-appropriate learning resources and virtual sessions for classrooms to access throughout the week.