The Ontario Ministry of Indigenous Relation and Reconciliation’s Facebook page and website made me consider how many non-Indiginous Canadian’s are “involved” with the ongoing reconciliation process, and what they can do to support Indigenous Canadian’s through this process.
BC has recently revamped its curriculum and one of the main new components is the focus on Canada’s Indigenous Peoples. However, the teacher training and educational resources to support this new curriculum are not all in place. This article from the Tyee Newspaper is a reminder that sometimes the best sources of knowledge and teaching can come from the students. While I would never advocate putting a child on the spot to talk about their heritage in front of the rest of the class, if a student is willing to share his/her personal experiences and ideas on a subject, it often has a much more impactful and intrinsic connection with the students (and teacher) receiving this teaching.
From CBC: Sachs Harbour, N.W.T., teen pens song about uncle’s death, garners thousands of views online
This story, published on September 16, 2017, came to my attention from my Facebook feed. Two years ago, a colleague of many years, left Victoria to take a teaching position in Inuvik, Northwest Territories. Jasmine has been Michelle’s student for the last two years. Because the community that Jasmine is from is so remote (Sachs Harbour in Inuvialuit Territory), she stays with a host family in Inuvik while attending high school. At the time of the recording, Jasmine was part of a program that takes part on a ship that sails through the Arctic in the summer, visiting communities and taking part in cultural communities along the way. Apparently, a student from my school, Esquimalt High, recently took part in this program as it is open to any student that applies, who falls within the age restriction. Until the song went “viral”, Michelle did not even know that Jasmine was a singer-songwriter! Another layer to Jasmine’s viral social media experience, is her mother’s story of attending residential school. Sending her daughter away to school, however, was not an option for her.
From CBC: ‘A punch in the gut’: Mother slams B.C. high school exercise connecting Indigenous women to ‘squaw’
This story was published September 18, 2017. A Grade 9 teacher, using the Teacher’s Guide, distributed worksheets to their students that had students associate racist nomenclature with the person of origin. Apparently, the motivation was to teach students what the ubiquitous terminology of the day was, however, as the mother astutely points out, the workbook is void of context, and fails to educate students about relevant information regarding the Indian Act and the reserve system, amongst other knowledge. Turning to Michael’s essay from this week; “ Educators must help students conceptually focus the mirror rather than a magnifying glass at native people.” (p. 499) This workbook perfectly exemplifies the magnifying glass approach. What also should be pointed out, is that the teacher in question, was likely trying to incorporate the new K-9 BC curriculum that has attempted to bring Indigenous knowledge into every course. As a BC teacher, I can say with certainty, that there has not been enough (any?) professional development to facilitate this change so that BCTF members can actually teach Indigenous knowledge with confidence. I am grateful that I am taking ETEC 521 so that I can hopefully avoid making one of my students or their parents feel link I have “punched them in the gut.” Most teachers will not be paying $1600, however, in order to take such meaningful Pro-D. Moreover, I wonder how many teachers will simply side step this portion of the curriculum in fear of making a mistake? <Segway to next article…>
Marker, Michael, “After the Makah Whale Hunt: Indigenous Knowledge and Limits to Multicultural Discourse”, Urban Education, Vol. 41(5), 2006, 482-505.
From CBC: Teachers lack confidence to talk about residential schools, study says
This story was published August 20, 2017. Yes. This is me. Or rather, this was me. I feel fortunate to work at a school that devotes a portion of our Pro-D time, every year, to Indigenous education and the well-being of our Indigenous students. But still, I do not feel like I know enough to say too much in class. With the Truth and Reconciliation Commission being part of mainstream media, combined with some incredibly meaningful Pro-D, I have begun to say more, however. On Orange Shirt Day 2016, I gave my first talk to my homeroom class about the significance of the day— how could I not? I felt like I had finally broken through my self-imposed, block of ice. It is now three weeks into ETEC 521, and I feel more equipped to say what needs to be said, when it needs to be said. I am looking forward to learning more, however, as I know there is much more knowledge to come!
This is Just Us: A Digital Media Documentary
At my high school, we run a course called First Peoples English, in which any student may elect to take this course, in lieu of regular English. Recently, students created the documentary, “This is Just Us.” For whatever reason, I only just learned of this documentary this week (it is amazing what you can find on your school’s website!). It is a bit of a commitment to watch, however, should you have 38 minutes to spare, you will not regret it. In the documentary, Indigenous and non-Indigenous students are interviewed. As well, a local Elder, one of our school’s Aboriginal Educational Assistants and the teacher of the course are all interviewed. Topics that are touched on include: Why Digital Media? What is self-esteem? Who are you thankful for? … and more! I was blown away with the students’ candidness, honesty, bravery and wisdom in their responses. The Elder speaks of running away from his residential school, seeking refuge in Washington. This really drove home the reading of “Borders and the Borderless Coast Salish” from last week. As opposed to the educator who ran into trouble when they attempted to “teach” Indigenous knowledge using an inappropriate “magnifying glass”, Ms. Dunn helped her students “conceptually focus the mirror”, with this project. The project would not have been a success without the partnership with Dano, an actor and director from Tsawout First Nation. Dano came in once a week for a couple of months, and after getting to know the students, he decided that the common thread was how self-esteem affects individuals, families and communities.
Indigenous Leaders on How to Celebrate National Aboriginal Day
This page was published on June 20, 2017, on the University of Toronto’s website. It interviews a variety of Indigenous Leaders (a student, an Elder, and the former National Chief, amongst others), who share how they plan to celebrate June 21 and what any Canadian could also do to recognize this day. I would like to specifically highlight one piece from this page, that addresses the Canada 150 celebrations. This summer, there was a heap of dialogue concerning whether we should be celebrating 150 years of colonialism. Many people I know chose to boycott all July 1 celebrations, and they were not afraid to make it known to all who would listen. Reading this piece, you will find Phil Fontaine’s (albeit brief) take on Canada 150. I don’t think everyone shares his perspective, however, it does exemplify the power of the “positive re-frame”. That is, when a situation is not ideal or seemingly “good”, by changing our perspective a few degrees, we can sometimes see opportunity past the darkness.
Pacific People’s Partnership
PPP is a non-profit organization that promotes sustainability, peace, social justice and community development for Indigenous peoples from the Lekwungen territory in coastal BC and South Pacific Indigenous peoples. I chose this site because I was able to attend a recent event at the BC Legislature on September 16, 2017, The One Wave Gathering. Five local Indigenous youth won a contest that resulted in their work being displayed on the front of four longhouses that were temporarily erected on the Legislature. The fifth artist’s work was made into a dance screen, as the judges were not able to let his work go unnoticed. Both the Songhees and Esquimalt Nation chief’s spoke at the opening ceremony. Chief Andy Thomas described the history of the land that we were meeting on, and how his Great-Great Grandparents were forced to move their village from Victoria’s Inner Harbour to the Esquimalt Harbour. I was particularly moved by the stories of the young artists and I truly felt the sense of proudness that they had of themselves and that their community had for them. That proudness wrapped itself around everyone in attendance. I will put a couple of my pictures on this blog, however, feel free to check out the Instagram hashtag, #onewavegathering to see other pictures and videos.
Recently published in the Canadian News was a mothers outrage over the use of the term “Squaw” used 39 times in the book “Susanna Moodie: Roughing it in the Bush,” printed by Second Story Press which was being used in the classroom and included teaching materials. The teacher gave students a test that had students matching the derogatory terms to correct “definitions or appropriate language”. Being able to see a few questions above, you can tell that this test is discussing the prejudice and background of when or why these terms were used. One can hope that further discussion was implemented about such content. But this raised a few questions for me:
Was the teacher in the wrong for using the resource, despite it being an approved teaching material?
Was this content appropriate for 14 year olds? If not, what age is?
Assuming the teacher did her due diligence in both prepping and unpacking such topics, are there certain topics teachers should not address, that are too controversial?
This book was published in 1852. Is it considered a classic or are our reading lists that outdated (most likely due to budget cuts in recent years)?
How easy/difficult is it for teachers/districts to get new reading materials in that perhaps might be more appropriate as well as more engaging for students both from indigenous and non-indigenous communities.
I’d like to share some resources that I and my colleagues have used recently in the classroom that have been well received. I would also like to open it up and ask for more suggestions of any books/audio books that you have used or come across. Additionally, after speaking with an Aboriginal Success Teacher for one of the nearby school districts, she directed me to the Canadian Aboriginal Books for School list which has quite an extensive list.
As mentioned in my introductory post, I am interested in how educational institutions may create spaces and opportunities to honour the spirituality of individuals and communities. Therefore, I am interested in researching how Indigenous people incorporate spirituality into their own educational programs.
The following resources represent my first foray into cyberspace to find out what’s going on out there. (The sites found are listed in alphabetical order by author.)
This literature review discusses Indigenous knowledge and recommends an educational framework and steps to improve the educational outcomes of First Nations peoples. It admits that in calling itself a ‘literature review’ it is a attempt to describe Indigenous knowledge through a Eurocentric lens. However one must start somewhere, so this is a review of the existing literature on Indigenous knowledge and pedagogy which the author hopes will, in turn, inform educational reform.
Keywords: Indigenous knowledge, pedagogy in First Nations education, epistemology, learning processes, cognitive other
The Medicine Wheel is a symbol used by many Indigenous cultures to represent the importance of the interrelatedness of all things. In this article, Bell explains how the Medicine Wheel may be used as a guide along an educational journey. In fact, she describes how honouring the gifts of each of the four directions may lead us to different learning processes as we move from standard linear models to the spiraling concepts of (a) awareness (East) with the call to envision or ‘seeing it’, (b) understanding (South) with the call for interrelationship over time or to ‘relating to it’, (c) knowledge (West) with the call to reason or to ‘figuring it out’, and finally, (d) wisdom (North) with the call for movement or to ‘doing it’. Bell then goes on to describe how this pedagogy has been used in practice.
Keywords: aboriginal, curriculum, educational change, elementary school
This is a book review of “The Knowledge Seeker: Embracing Indigenous Spirituality” by Blair Stonechild. The review is helpful because Brandhagen describes its ties to education, specifically to the history of Stonechild’s experience and challenges faced in a post-secondary education environment. It also describes the ‘sacred activity’ of learning and how “creating a new First Nations education system was one of the ways to bring focus back to honouring First Nations culture, community, language, and spirituality after the residential schools had existed for generations for the sole purpose of destroying those very relationships” (Brandhagen, 2017, para. 4). The description of learning as a sacred activity is an important one, as it speaks to the impact of education on individuals and communities. Although written by a Canadian from a Canadian-Indigenous perspective, Stonechild has researched the spirituality of Indigenous cultures from around the world, giving it a relevance beyond our borders.
Keywords: Indigenous spirituality, education, oral knowledge, First Nations culture
This is a brief announcement from the Faculty of Education at the University of Manitoba, indicating that they would be co-hosting the Aboriginal Education Research Forum and the Canadian Symposium on Indigenous Teacher Education. It took place April 24th and 25th, 2017. Of interest to me is that this year’s theme was Embedding Spiritual and Sustainable Wisdom in Education and Research as and Act of Reconciliation. The hope is that by honouring “the need to value Indigenous knowledge traditions…will ultimately positively impact educational outcomes” (McDougall, 2017, para. 3). It is my belief that by respecting students as whole beings with spiritual needs and perspectives will support them in achieving their educational goals.
This is the follow-up story to the above announcement. It describes how the keynote speaker’s (Dr. Chantal Fiola’s) spiritual journey not only shaped her identity but also informed her research and teaching practice. She makes the astute comment, “Many people think that spirituality is important to education. It’s just that for several generations, it was a particular kind of religion that was taught” (McDougall, 2017, April 26, para. 4). This not only refers to the sad history of Canada’s residential school system but can also be said to refer to all parochial schools and colleges with religious affiliations. Therefore, the connection between religion and spirituality is not new, it is just now being allowed to be revived in certain communities. So she asks, “What actions are we taking in our classrooms, and in our school systems to make space for different spiritualties?” (McDougall,2017, April 26, para. 6). It is a good and relevant question.
Keywords: Shawane Dagosiwin, spirituality in reconciliation, spirituality in education
Stonechild has seen the full spectrum of aboriginal education in Canada, from being a residential school survivor to helping develop a First Nation-controlled post-secondary institution. In this article, he summaries his view on the importance of spirituality in education. He explains that aboriginal spirituality is about establishing a health relationship with all things, especially with one’s family, nation, and Nature itself. On this physical journey, learning is a sacred mission. Those who have lost touch with their spiritual roots may forget the importance of maintaining healthy interrelationships and so turn to substance abuse, crime and gang activities. Therefore, researching, writing and teaching about the principles of Aboriginal spirituality is very important at this time.
Something I have realized through this course is something Einstein once said (don’t worry, I am not comparing myself to Einstein :P), “The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don’t know.” I completely imagined myself creating a nice little framework to provide a context and background for educators and then creating resources for the classroom. I realized two things; no such framework can exist, the context and background I was referring to can only be gleaned through the process of trying to understand, not in a nice little package. Second, I lack the expertise to create authentic resources in this area. It would be an exercise in futility, and a huge irony that a Westerner is advocating “authentic indigenous perspective integration” while creating inauthentic resources… In light of this, I focused my final weblog on collecting quality, authentic resources that already exist. Enjoy!
(Please note that the titles are links to the full documents)
The First Nations Education Steering Committee (FNESC) has created a resource on residential schools and reconciliation for grade 5, 10, and 11/12. They offer detailed lessons, progressions, curricular connections, and supplementary resources such as books, videos, and handouts. They offer high-level critical thinking activities that encourage critical thinking; each at an age appropriate level.
This is also a compilation of resources by FNESC. It analyzes a large selection of literature for use with grades K-9. It provides descriptions of each, reading levels, curricular areas, themes, and the nation represented. One caveat of this one is its organization, which is alphabetical rather than by grade level, theme, or subject. It makes it a bit arduous to find what you need, but you can easily tag the pages that will be of interest to you for quick reference later!
Again produced by FNESC, this resource varies from those above in that it provides a framework of background, understandings, and attitudes for educators. It directly speaks to the apprehension teachers might feel in authentically integrating Aboriginal perspectives. It highlights themes and ways of knowing that are important to indigenous cultures before going on to present a selection of complete, and detailed, classroom units for grades K-3.
The Learning Circle
This is a resource produced by Indian and Northern Affairs Canada. It is targeted at ages 8-11 and id developed thematically with themes such as transportation, communities, families, and environment. Each unit provides main ideas and objectives, background information for the teacher, and classroom activities. One thing I do notice about this one is it is primarily devoted to “traditional” practices. That is, it does not frame Aboriginal cultures as a current and ongoing culture of practices and understandings, but rather relegates it to the past. It would need to be supplemented or framed correctly to be used well. For example, perhaps examining Western and Aboriginal cultures in the past, and then comparing the present.
This document is essentially a weblog itself! It provides brief descriptions and links to a variety of Canadian Aboriginal resources. These are arranged thematically with topics such as Aboriginal arts, activism, history, and social problems. The compiled resources are targeted to a variety of age groups, but will take a bit of further investigation to fins what you are looking for!
Shared Learning is a document produced by the Aboriginal Education Enhancements Branch of the British Columbia Ministry of Education. The resource begins with an overview of the document and its uses and then provides information on the history, foundations and attitudes needed to utilize the resource. It is organized thematically and by age group, so the same themes carry through all age groups in age appropriate ways. Each component is further divided into the sections of Shared Learnings, Instructional Strategies, and Resources. An addition benefit of this resource is that it positions Aboriginal cultures as contemporary and evolving, not as a relic of the past.
1. The link below is for the Reconciliation Canada website. The “About Us” section tells its audience that the idea around Reconciliation Canada was “born from the vision of Chief Dr. Robert Joseph, Gwawaenuk Elder.” Reconciliation Canada provides information and resources to help engage individuals, groups, and communities in discussions and experiences related to reconciliation with the purpose of “revitaliz(ing) the relationships among Indigenous peoples and all Canadians.” This website offers “Programs & Initiatives,” suggestions for how to “Get Involved,” “News & Events,” “Resources,” how to “Contact” them, and how to “Donate.” I found the resources section especially helpful from the perspective of an educator because it provides resources to access the topic of reconciliation from a variety of sources and instructional strategies, including videos, impact stories, useful links, shareable documents, and toolkits.
Specifically, one video I felt was very powerful was a TEDxEastVan talk by Chief Dr. Robert Joseph which shared a message of hope for reconciliation and that “we are all one.” Chief Dr. Joseph’s message was clear, that reconciliation is “for all of us,” and he questioned and then discussed what reconciliation would look like in the future. The talk can be found at: http://reconciliationcanada.ca/chief-joseph-speaks-at-tedx-eastvan/
2. The next link is to an article in a chapter of a virtual textbook, AFMC Primer on Population Health. The section discusses the profound impact of colonization, specifically the impact of residential schools, loss of language and culture, and western values and laws forced on Indigenous populations in Canada, and the lasting health effects that are the consequence. In addition to this, the significant differences between Indigenous healing practices and western medicine, as well as the potential for integration of these two is touched on.
3. The following link is for the National Collaborating Centre for Aboriginal Health (NCCAH) which was established in 2005 by the Government of Canada and is one of six National Collaborating Centres for Public Health in Canada. The NCCAH is hosted by the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC) “as part of its dedication to First Nations and Aboriginal programming” and is funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada.
This overview is essentially a factsheet which provides a good overview of and statistical representation of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples in Canada. The overview touches on a number of significant issues affecting First Nations populations, and the information referenced in the overview is quite up-to-date with references as recent as 2013.
4. I found the next link interesting as it appeared to attempt to address the issue of developing early education opportunities for First Nations children, which seemed to connect well with the “Stepping Forward” video that we watched in Module 3 – Week 8. The website states, “the Government of Canada established Aboriginal Head Start to help enhance child development and school readiness of First Nations, Inuit and Métis children…” However, I believe this link could potentially act as an interesting debate piece. While the website asserts that the goal of the program “is to support early child development strategies that are designed and controlled by communities,” I question whether the governing body (in this case, the Government of Canada) will allow that development to be based around First Nations culture and language, or if western education strategies will actually be targeted through development/learning outcomes prescribed by the government. Interestingly, the programming outline lists “education” and “culture and language” as two separate components.
5. My final link is to a news article that connects directly to the issues shared on the “Stepping Forward” video watched in Module 3 – Week 8. While the article deals with a current issue and has only been published within the last few days, the issue itself brings the reader back to the days of residential schools. The article reveals that the government of Nunavut is investigating a report of at least one teacher threatening punishment and actually disciplining a student for speaking their language, Inuktitut, in school. The article discusses the fact that there are fewer than 200 Inuit teachers and over 400 non-Inuit teachers currently teaching in Nunavut, which contributes to the lack of language and cultural understanding in the territory.
Additional Reference used in above notes:
NunavutEducation. (2012). Alluriarniq – stepping forward: Youth perspectives on high school education in Nunavut . Retrieved 26 October, 2016, from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bh36hsFE8n4
These links are ones I have recently come across that relate to my research project on teaching elementary students about Residential Schools, as well as links that support the teaching of First Nations culture to younger students.
This Inuit legend tells the story of how raven’s feathers turned black. I like this video because it is using authentic language and is engaging for young audiences. Using stop-motion video techniques allows children to get into the story and learn about a legend and culture through storytelling. Hearing an authentic voice speak the language adds to the experience of this charming story.
I came across this link in Kimberly Cook’s references in her Discussion #5 post. I chose to include it in my resources because I feel it may be important to incorporate into my research for my final project. Although at this point I intend to focus on the topic of residential schools I think it would be important to also introduce the concept of stereotypes to my students during discussions and how this related to the times when residential schools were prevalent.
This is a link I came across in my other course, ETEC565A. YESNet is the Yukon Education Student Network, and the First Nations section of this website contains numerous K-12 resources that are directly related to First Nations cultures both in the Yukon and the rest of Canada. These resources include curriculum on relationships, attachments, restorative practices, culturally relevant programs, and activities. You can find book lists, games, study guides and templates relating subjects such as science, math, social studies, and the arts.
I included this link because of my love for picture books! Storytelling can be a very powerful way to get across important lessons, thoughts, and feelings. Storytelling is also an integral part of many First Nations cultures so it is fitting to incorporate stories into teachings about Aboriginal cultures and ways of life. This particular list includes authentic stories based on real events of First Nations children going to residential schools. These stories open up a space for conversation on this tough topic. The book list contains age range recommendations and a brief synopsis of each title with a picture of the book, too.
I chose this particular image to represent this resource because these Principles of Learning summarize important foundations at the root of many First Nations cultures. This resource comprises the results of meetings between five districts across BC with urban and rural aboriginal and non-aboriginal participants. This compilation contains photos of activities in classrooms as well as projects, meaningful quotes from educators and participants around the province, as well as sections on:
Connectedness and Relationship
Awareness of History
Engagement with the Land, Nature, the Outdoors
Emphasis on Identity
Community Involvement: Process and Protocols
The Power of Story
Language and Culture
The Role of the Teacher
Teacher Preservice Training and Inservice Professional Development
This website is a language archive collection of Indigenous cultures in Canada. By selecting a province, visitors can see the various tribes and in their respective areas around the province. By choosing a specific group, you are then transported to a page with language resources. The page for the area where I live, in southeastern British Columbia home to the Ktunaxa people, contains 2500 words and 1114 phrases archived. The Ktunaxa people have even developed their own language app available in the App store. Along with audio files and an alphabet with sound to hear the language spoken authentically, visitors also have access to an art gallery, games, and community slideshow.
This website takes you to the publisher site for the novel, Fatty Legs by Christy Jordan-Fenton & Margaret Pokiak-Fenton. This is a true story that tells of 8-year old Margaret’s own journey to a residential school in the Arctic on her quest to learn how to read.
On this site you will find a peak inside the book, a lesson plan to introduce the book, questions to ask during reading related by chapter, and activities for after reading. There is also a Book Talk resource link that ties in with themes that come up through the story, as well as a podcast by the author. This book is recommended to be read to students ages 9-12. Related books by the same authors are When I Was Eight, Not My Girl, and A Stranger At Home.
This site is home to the popular series “Rabbit and Bear Paws”. The Canadian authors of this series aim to teach children about The Seven Grandfather Teachings (Love – Eagle; Courage – Bear; Respect – Buffalo; Humility – Mouse; Honesty – Sabe; Truth – Turtle; Wisdom – Beaver) through children’s picture books and graphic novels.
This collection of resources is put out by the government to assist elementary teachers in teaching about First Nations’ cultures. It provides sample lesson plans with audio files of Aboriginal stories. These units consist of lessons on storytelling, the seasons, sharing, colours, games, and National Aboriginal Day.
This project discusses the 150 years of residential schools in BC. The site provides an eBook on the project, as well as a compilation of supporting resources and activities. Originally started in Ontario, Project of Heart has spread across Canada encouraging the education about residential schools. This eBook provides specific information about schools in BC, but also the realities of residential schools all over the country. “Reconciliation is about respect” says Justice Murray Sinclair, Chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.
This video introduces teaching resources that can be used to introduce Residential Schools in British Columbia. It includes all of the necessary teaching components needed to introduce the topic sensitively and in a culturally sound way.