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Horizon School Division
Creating a better world, one student at a time.
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October 4, 2021 - A message from Kevin C. Garinger,Director of Education

October 04, 2021

Image of Kevin C. Garinger"Reconciliation is a way of life, continuous, with no end date. It is learning from our lived experiences and understanding one another. It is creating the necessary space for us to heal. It is planting seeds of hope and respect so that our garden blooms for our children." This quote was from Monica Ell-Kanayuk, Inuit Circumpolar Council President, who spoke these powerful words on Canada's first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.


The truths related to the atrocities of residential schooling have long been hidden from society. It has been long overdue that the stories of those who have endured significant scorn, persecution, assault, and even death are brought to light for all to realize the importance of reconciling with this past. Amanda Moosemay, Instructional Coach, presented her personal story to division office staff in an online presentation that gripped everyone and helped each see the significance of this important day through the learning lens that spoke to Amanda's difficult past. The Board of Education also had the opportunity to listen to trustee Ed Bitternose, who shared his first-hand accounts of his tragic time spent at residential schools in Saskatchewan. The sharing session occurred during a "Lunch and Learn" event put on by SaskEnergy and the SAGE Steering Committee, where Ed was the guest speaker. Ed attended three residential schools — Gordon Residential School as a day student, Mission (Muskowekwan) Residential School, and St. Paul Lebret Residential School from Grade 3 to Grade 11 (1958-1966). As well as being a trustee and a leader on George Gordon First Nation, Ed and his wife Laverne have two daughters, five sons, 16 grandchildren, three great-grandchildren and 59 others who have found a safe place with them on their bison ranch.


Both of these events, along with the many that occurred across Horizon schools, allowed all of us the opportunity to show our respect and to honour residential school survivors and victims. Our ability to reflect on the past provides us with a vision of the way forward that ensures we can live in a world free from further atrocities. Our Board and my office are continually grateful for what each of you has done and continue to do for our children and each other in addressing truth and reconciliation. As Nelson Mandela stated, "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world".


While the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation was and should have been the central focus of the week, including the plans that schools and the Division put in place to honour this important day, the remainder of the week was also significantly full. On Monday, the project group for Lanigan's new K to 12 school met to discuss the monthly status report and examine some of the important layout changes required to meet our needs most effectively. We look forward to sharing more about this exciting project in the coming weeks.


Also, on Monday, the Board's Audit Committee, led by chair Mark Fedak and the other committee members, including trustees Jenna Hale, Albert Pinacie, and Jim Lissinna, met to go over the fourth quarter audit reports for Finance services and Human Resource services. Sandy Gessner, CFO, joined me to help present the information to the committee. As Randy MacLEAN, Deputy Director was away dealing with other matters, I gave the quarterly HR report on his behalf. Following the Audit Committee, trustee and Governance Committee chair, Jennifer Lemky led a committee meeting with trustees Jenna Hale, Doug Armbruster, and Paul Crow-Buffalo. The Governance Committee focuses on ensuring that policies are considered for review by the Board and spent part of their discussion on the impending strategic planning session held in the middle of October. Jim Hack and Linda Mattock, Board chair and vice-chair, respectively, joined these meetings as ex-officio members, and the committees appreciated their valuable insights.


Monday evening, I joined a discussion related to my role as the president-elect of the Saskatchewan League of Educational Administrators, Directors, and Superintendents or LEADS. LEADS is the professional organization in the province that provides support to its members who hold teaching certificates and work in a supervisory or administrative capacity that require them to have an out-of-scope designation. Individuals are required to be members of the League if they are directors, deputy directors, superintendents, assistant superintendents, and supervisors. The organization is governed by policies and procedures that align with the LEADS Act (1991), which also provides LEADS with regulatory responsibilities to require members' registration prior to obtaining employment and the right to discipline its members. The meeting was held to review the requirements of the Act in relation to the mandates of the Education Relations Board (ERB), who are appointed through an order in council. The ERB is responsible for ensuring the number of LEADS members does not exceed the requirements outlined in the Collective Bargaining Agreement with the teachers of Saskatchewan. The meeting helped to clarify roles and to ensure the Act is upheld purposefully.


Tuesday saw the Public Section meeting that involved Board Chair Jim Hack and other committee members from across the province from public boards. Jim also sits as an executive member of the committee. The committee also met to discuss their work plan and discuss the Public Section Strategic Plan.  


Dr. Leroy Sloan led the annual Board Appraisal session on Thursday evening and Friday. Leroy is an experienced board governance expert. His governance model is being used in Horizon and over half the school divisions in the province, including the likes of Saskatoon Public and Regina Public. Dr Sloan was able to support our Board through a series of exercises that supports the significant work they do that leads to the success of Horizon. The appraisal session also supported their work on looking at a possible path forward that ensures continuous improvement for our system.  


On September 30, the Government of Saskatchewan released two new Public Health Order relating to the proof of Covid-19 vaccinations or negative testing and important information regarding the direction for our province concerning addressing close contacts and possible cases of Covid-19. Of significant importance is the requirement for unvaccinated children who are close contacts from a home infection to remain in isolation for 14 days from the last contact of the family member. Of course, this pertains to any children born later than 2009, as they cannot receive the vaccine. It also pertains to children whose families choose not to have their children receive the vaccine at this time. Before October 1st, all children were exempt from isolation restrictions if they were close contacts and remained asymptomatic. Essentially the new order will only allow exemptions for those children who are close contacts in a home infection if they are fully vaccinated. My office will be making shifts in our plans based on this recent information, and more will be shared regarding these changes with principals and staff in the coming days.


Finally, I had the great pleasure to watch some of our youth participate in extracurricular activities over the weekend. I know we are grateful to have our young people involved in these endeavours as they have a significant benefit to mental and physical health…for them and all of us. So, again, I want to thank everyone for following the mandates of our Public Health Orders and those of Horizon School Division as we continue to try and keep extracurricular sports, drama, and music happening across our system.


Have a great week, and stay safe, Horizon.



Kevin C. Garinger  B.Ed., M.A.Ed.
Director of Education/CEO
Horizon School Division No. 205