Hands Back Hands Forward


Musqueam Elder, Dr. Vincent Stogan shared the teaching of hands back and hands forward. When we gather to share our knowledge and to discuss important ‘work’, we stand in circle to give thanks and to show our support for one another by holding hands. We hold our left palm upward to symbolize reaching back to receive help from our Ancestors and those who have walked before us. We learn to use these teachings and our responsibility is to help those who come after us. We then extend our right palm downwards as a symbol giving help. This is the teaching of hands back and hands forward.

Under the guidance of Jo Ann Archibald, the service learning project for this course (EDST 591 – Indigenous Epistemology and Curriculum) will focus on the Aboriginal Focus School that will open in the Vancouver School District (VSD) in September 2012. This school is the first of its kind in the VSD and among the few in public school districts across Canada. UBC graduate students participating in this course have taken their understandings of course readings and discussions, and additional literature to develop this Indigenous Epistemology and Curriculum (IE & C) project that will be useful to this school and others that are interested in using Indigenous epistemology to shape curriculum practices; thereby, practicing the Indigenous teaching of hands back and hands forward.  These projects were presented to members of the Aboriginal Caucus and Steering Committee for the Aboriginal Focus School on March 26, 2012 at the Hands Back, Hands Forward Aboriginal Education Symposium at the UBC First Nations Longhouse.

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