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.
As part of Facing History and Ourselves three day summer seminar "CHC2 Canadian History through a Facing History Lens", Nathan Tidridge came to speak about "Creating a Culture of Caring Through Reconciliation as Non-Indigenous Teacher."
If you were unable to attend and would like to see the talk it was streamed and can be accessed on Periscope.
Following the event I had a chance to catch up with Nathan and talk to him a little bit about his experiences teaching difficult content in the highschool classroom. Whether or not you were able to attend this great talk, take a look at the following interview and consider the following:
1. How could you use the information in this interview to better your own teaching practice?
2. How might this interview help you contextualize the importance of addressing the TRC calls to action for your department and school?
3. How could the interview be used to help inspire and build confidence in educators to incorporate Indigenous Studies into their classrooms?
This past semester, my course team for Academic Geography decided to focus on making the Grade 9 course more issues based. In turn, we made changes to how we structured the units. Additionally, we wanted to embed the Geographic Inquiry Model into our lessons as well as major assessments. Our goal was to further develop students’ critical thinking skills as they examined different issues within Canadian Geography.
Throughout my years of teaching I began to realize something that Facing History and Ourselves so adeptly addresses- that we tend to see ourselves as “us” vs. “them.” I think that’s one of the hardest issues I’ve come across in teaching WWII, as so many students see what happened as a problem solely with Germany. “They” were racist. That could never happen “here!” It’s “their” problem. But what I really wanted to address in my classroom is that the roots of anti-Semitism and racism that led to the Holocaust were not just found in Germany!