In this post, Social Studies teacher Lindsay Hutchison and Math, Science and Careers teacher Mariam Hazhir reflect on their teaching following the murder of George Floyd last June and share how they seek to practice antiracist educator mindsets, foster reflective conversations about racial inequity as allies, encourage critical consciousness and outline five principles that teachers of all disciplines can practice.
Earlier this week, it came to our attention that the supports that we have been offering to Canadian educators seeking to address the murder of George Floyd, and Canada's anti-Black racism with students aren't as accessible and visible as they should, and need to be.
This spring, Facing History and Ourselves, in partnership with the Azrieli Foundation Holocaust Survivors Memoir Program, invited 175 students from 6 schools to layer onto their learning about the history and legacies of the Holocaust, or of Canada's Residential Schools by reading Survivor memoir. Students read Theodore Fontaine’s Memoir Broken Circle: The Dark Legacy of Indian Residential Schools, or excerpts of Nate Leipciger’s Memoir The Weight of Freedom, then created pieces that reflected their understanding and responses to these testimonies, which were gifted to each Survivor.
Topics: Toronto, Holocaust, Memoir, Facing History and Ourselves, Survivor Testimony, Canada, Residential Schools, Canadian History, Student Work, project, genocide, Holocaust and Human Behaviour, reflection, Connected Learning, Grade 10 History, HSB, CHC, difficult conversations, trc, stolen lives, facing history pedagogy, Azrieli Foundation Memoirs, Decolonizing Schools, Holocaust History in Canada, Facing Canada, cross curricular teaching and learning, collaborative inquiry
In my grade 10 Canadian history class, I often used excerpts from Joseph Boyden’s Three Day Road to explore what life was like for soldiers during WWI. In this novel, protagonist Xavier Bird returns to Northern Ontario in 1919 after fighting in France and Belgium. He is met by his aunt Niska, an Oji-Cree woman, and the two travel back to their village. On this journey, the two recount traumatic experiences from their past - Xavier as a soldier returning from the front and Niska as a survivor of residential schools.
Topics: Canada, Canadian History, Truth and Reconciliation, Indigenous History, Book, Indigenous, English Classroom, big paper, English, Grade 10 History, CHC, difficult conversations, trc, stolen lives, settler educators
A sampling of Indigenous authored resources for K-12 classrooms from the OISE library. [Photo courtesy of Desmond Wong.]
In a talk titled, What is Reconciliation, Chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Senator Justice Murray Sinclair, reflects:
“It took us a long time to get to this point, in terms of the relationship between Aboriginal people and this country. Seven generations of children went through the residential schools. And each of those children who were educated were told that their lives were not as good as the lives of non-Aboriginal people of this country. They were told that their languages and culture were irrelevant...at the same time that was going on, non-Aboriginal children...were also being told the same thing... So as a result, many generations of children...have been raised to think about things...in a way that is negative when it comes to Aboriginal people. We need to change that.”
Including Indigenous voices, worldviews and resources into classrooms throughout Canada is an essential part of that change. In doing so, it is equally essential to bring a breadth of resources into classrooms so students encounter a diversity and depth of lived experiences. The following post, written by Ontario Institute of Studies in Education librarian, Desmond Wong, helps us to do that.
On International Holocaust Remembrance Day, and indeed everyday, it is important to remind ourselves of how important it is that we learn about the Holocaust and hear the stories of Holocaust survivors.
Why do troubled times so often bring out hatred in humanity? In both Canada and the United States over the past few years there has been much xenophobic rhetoric spread around in light of numerous global crises. During the 2015 Canadian and 2016 American elections we saw candidates in both countries “other” identifiable or vulnerable members of society using hateful language and often using them as scapegoats for social and economic problems, all while claiming to speak for the will of those they purport to be the “silent majority”. Furthermore, we saw large groups joining the “unsilent majority” through the use of social media to spread hate, join xenophobic movements and rallies, commit hate crimes and even acts of violence. Those who criticized this movement drew many parallels between the social climate and dialogue of today to that of Nazi Germany. As educators we felt it necessary to attempt to address this recurring phenomenon.
It’s playoff time! Toronto is welcoming the Cleveland Indians for the American League Championship Series, and things are stirring on social media. Why hasn’t Cleveland changed their name? For years, they’ve been using culturally insensitive names; and as Canadians, we can no longer stand by the degradation of Indigenous culture and beliefs.