At SCS, we are working hard to ensure that community members are known and valued.
The School’s mission is to develop outstanding women who are intellectually curious, courageous, and compassionate. Our students are guided to become critical thinkers, problem solvers, creative and strong communicators, and skilled collaborators. They demonstrate strong character and a commitment to citizenship. This ongoing and strategic work is guided by SCS’s values of excellence, respect, integrity, community, creativity, and spirituality.
To enable the success of each one of our students, SCS believes that every member of our community must feel safe and have a strong sense of belonging. This commitment to belonging is a strategic imperative for our School. As articulated in our Strategic Plan 2025, we wish to foster an inclusive and safe environment in which students are empowered to engage in and contribute to a community in which everyone feels known and valued. This work is and must be ongoing, and engage our parents in addition to our students, staff, and alums.
Our Diversity Statement reflects this ongoing work:
There are three student-led equity committees at SCS: the Anti-Racism Committee (ARC), the Gender & Sexuality Alliance (GSA), and the Indigenous Affairs Circle (IAC). They each undertake special projects related to the School’s ongoing commitment to an equitable, diverse, and inclusive environment in which each member’s identity and well-being is valued.
Here’s a snapshot of recent projects:
A territorial or land acknowledgement is an act of reconciliation that involves making a statement recognizing the traditional territory of the Indigenous Peoples who called the land home before the arrival of settlers, and in many cases still do call it home. Land acknowledgements are just the first step to creating partnerships with, and learning from, Indigenous communities.
Over the course of the 2021-2022 school year, Gabrielle M. ‘22 and a group of staff members, working with the Indigenous Affairs Circle, sought to revise the SCS land acknowledgement. During the revision process, the group consulted Geraldine Govender, an Elder from the Moose Cree First Nation and an important partner and friend to the School. Other land acknowledgements, and the writings of scholars like Chelsea Vowel and Hayden King on land acknowledgements also influenced sections and word choices.
The land acknowledgement is intended to be personalized and adapted to:
As a school, we must ensure that our students are learning about the heritage, cultures, and valuable contributions made to Canada by First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples. We are committed to seeking truth and acknowledging the impacts of colonialism.
This ongoing education occurs both via components of the curriculum, and also via student-led co-curricular opportunities. An example of the latter: on the first ever National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on September 30, 2021 – a day honouring the lost children and Survivors of residential schools, their families, and communities – the members of SCS’s Indigenous Affairs Circle ran a Truth and Reconciliation Assembly for the full school. During that gathering, the committee discussed what truth and reconciliation really means: “Reconciliation needs to happen on an individual level and a community level, not just a governmental one. Reconciliation is about the acknowledgement of wrongs from residential schools and their continual impact on Indigenous people today, addressing these wrongs and their impacts, and elevating Indigenous voices and culture.”
Following that assembly, Upper School students heard from guest speaker Andy Garrow about how we can concretely move forward with reconciliation. In the Junior School, students examined the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action by using the youth-friendly version, Spirit Bear’s Guide to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. Each class learned about one call to action in depth and committed to that call to action.
“We all need to be continually aware of the inequities that Indigenous people face and the lasting effects of residential schools, work to correct any biases we may have, and incorporate Indigenous teachings into our learning.” The Indigenous Affairs Circle ran full-school events to bring together the SCS community and talk about Indigenous culture, social justice issues, and reconciliation. Students were encouraged to participate by donating to a hamper drive, joining one of the Métis beading circles, or attending an IAC meeting.
SCS’s partnership with Moose Factory and the Moose Cree First Nation was forged in 2010, and has been strengthened in the years since then with regular visits by SCS students and staff. In 2016, we were thrilled to be able to welcome a group of elders and Grade 8 Moose Factory students for a reciprocal visit. The power of this partnership isn’t based solely on trips taken once or twice a year – although that goes a long way toward building the understanding and respect that is crucial for a mutually beneficial exchange. (And, having not been able to travel in person to Moose Factory during COVID, we are so excited that the trips have now been able to resume!)
We, the SCS community, acknowledge the traditional, ancestral, unceded territory of the Wendat, the Anishinabek Nation, the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation, and the Métis people on which we are learning, working and organizing today. We acknowledge that the city of Toronto is covered by Treaty 13 signed with the Mississaugas of the Credit, and the Williams Treaties signed with multiple Mississaugas and Chippewa bands. While the Toronto Purchase was signed for this parcel of land, we recognize that the Mississaugas were not properly compensated and more land was taken than originally agreed upon.
We value the contributions that Indigenous peoples from across Turtle Island have made, both in shaping and in strengthening our community, our province, and our country. We are grateful for our partnerships with Kâpapâmahchakwêw – Wandering Spirit School and Moose Cree First Nation, and continue to learn from them.
Let this acknowledgement serve as a reminder of our ongoing efforts to recognize, honour, reconcile and partner with the Indigenous peoples and groups whose lands and waters we benefit from today. These efforts are grounded in a commitment to learn and honour the truths of this land; we recognize that the truth of colonialism has been buried and hidden throughout the past, but in acknowledging the land we commit to seek out the truth. We are all treaty people. While we have arrived to this place differently, all of us share a responsibility to honour the treaties.
Lastly, may Indigenous excellence and joy pervade teaching and learning in our school.
As part of the School’s ongoing EDI work, we have been pleased to provide various forums for learning.
In November 2019, we welcomed 100 delegates from SCS and eight colleague schools for the Race, Privilege, and Community Conference. Working with the New York-based non-profit Pollyanna Inc., and with the generous financial support of SCS parents Tracy Pryce and Michael Salamon, the event focused on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and was the first conference of its kind held in Canada. Each participating school sent a delegation of students, faculty, administrators, parents, alum, and board members, all of whom were fully engaged in the discussions. The intention of the conference was not just to listen and contribute, but to create an action plan to take back to their respective schools.