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Indigenous mother receives apology after son’s preschool class crafted headdresses for Orange Shirt Day

A still from a TikTok video by Samantha Sinclair, who has a son in a Coquitlam, B.C. preschool, in which she holds up a headdress he crafted a day before the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. (sandkcollective/TikTok)

A still from a TikTok video by Samantha Sinclair, who has a son in a Coquitlam, B.C. preschool, in which she holds up a headdress he crafted a day before the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

Photo: TikTok/sandkcollective

RCI

In viral TikTok video, shocked Samantha Sinclair shows headdress class wore when parents picked up their kids

A Lytton First Nations mother has received an apology after she posted a TikTok video about a headdress that her son was asked to craft at a preschool in Coquitlam, B.C.

Samantha Sinclair posted the video (new window) last Thursday, a day before the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation (new window), and it has since gone viral, attracting more than half a million views.

Sinclair says she made the video in shock in her car after she picked up her son from the French immersion preschool.

In the video, she shows the headdress, which is made of a cardboard base and synthetic feathers. The words Chaque enfant compte (Every child matters) are written around the base of the headdress.

Sinclair, who has residential school survivors in her family, said she wants to break cycles of trauma with her son by educating him and changing what he's taught.

She also said the timing of the craft lesson — particularly the day before Orange Shirt Day but also a month before Halloween, where headdresses are still worn as costumes (new window) despite criticism — made trying to normalize their use in a school environment very disappointing.

Promise to do better

Mila Banfield, a co-owner of the school, apologized to Sinclair the next day.

This just proves how much we need to learn and unlearn, Banfield told CBC News. I had no idea that I was so ignorant.

Over a phone call, the two talked about how Indigenous culture could be incorporated into the school's curriculum, Banfield said.

Our journey to find truth is, we have to start connecting with Indigenous cultures and people, she said. We don't know what we don't know yet.

Banfield said she hopes to bring Indigenous leaders into the school in the future, and said she wanted to apologize not only to Sinclair, but also to all Indigenous peoples.

Sinclair said there are many appropriate ways that teachers can mark the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. 

It's important that people know the difference between appropriation and appreciation. We want to break these stereotypes, Sinclair said.

WATCH | Coquitlam preschool apologizes for headdress craft activity: 

B.C. mom upset with preschool headdress craft

3 hours agoDuration2:24A mother from the Lytton First Nation in Coquitlam, B.C., says she was in disbelief after her son was sent home with a headdress craft made on the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

CBC News with files from Yasmin Gandham

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