October 20, 2016
Dear Trustees, Staff, Students, Families, and Supporters of the Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board:
Yesterday was an important day in the ongoing journey of the staff, students, and families of the Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board. Every day, our Catholic school communities demonstrate tremendous compassion for the human condition. But, yesterday more than 500 students and staff, from 37 schools, joined 20,000 others from across the province at WE Day in Toronto. All of these students and staff are committed to making our homes, our schools, our communities, and our world a better place. It was truly inspirational to be there to witness the energy and passion of the students as well as the wonderful staff who accompanied them.
Last evening was also the inaugural WE Family Event -- where 18,000 gathered to experience a bit of what the students had experienced earlier during the day. Included in this gathering were nearly 400 from our Simcoe Muskoka Catholic family. I hope and believe that everyone who was able to make the trip to Toronto last evening was inspired by what they witnessed.
There were many powerful moments, but I believe one in particular resonated with all of us -- and that was the segment that involved Gord Downie and Pearl Wenjack. Those who were there witnessed a moment in Canadian history -- a moment when Canada chose to redefine itself as a nation and address its fractured relationship with our indigenous brothers and sisters. As many of you are aware, Gord Downie from the Tragically Hip is nearing the end of his life, and is devoting his precious time to tell the story of Chanie Wenjack, a twelve year old boy who ran away from his residential school in order to return to his home, more than 600 km away. Gord introduced his song and animated film called the Secret Path and invited Chanie's sister, Pearl Wenjack to lead the stadium in a hauntingly beautiful prayer. Imagine 20,000 students standing in silence and holding hands in a show of solidarity for truth and reconciliation.
Below you will find a link to an article by CBC explaining Gord's work.
In collaboration with award-winning author Jeff Lemire, the animated film will pay tribute to Chanie Wenjack, who died 50 years ago when he was walking 600 km home to the family he was taken away from.
Gord Downie's Secret Path will be airing this Sunday, October 23rd at 9 p.m. one day after the 50th anniversary of Chanie's death. Gord is asking everyone to gather with their family and friends to watch Secret Path together, and then continue the conversation about truth and reconciliation.
I also encourage our students, staff, and families to come together Sunday evening to watch Secret Path. It will be through education that we find the truth and reconciliation that is required to heal the wounds of the residential school tragedy. I look forward to involving everyone in the Simcoe Muskoka Catholic community in this most important conversation.
It is such an honour to serve with you.
Brian Beal, Director of Education and Secretary-Treasurer
Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board
46 Alliance Blvd, Barrie, On L4M 5K3