If you have ever travelled to Brantford Ontario Canada, you might have been excited to visit the home of Alexander Graham Bell to learn about the invention of the telephone. You might have come for a hockey tournament and had the privilege of meeting Hockey Legend Wayne Gretzky’s father Walter, who loves hanging out at the rinks. You may have picked up brochures with beautiful pictures of the Grand River or did research about Joseph Brant, who was the negotiator between the Mohawk and British during the American Revolution. But you might not know that Brantford is the home of the first residential school in Canada; that the building still stands with the names of children carved into the bricks and that it is one of the few residential school buildings still standing in Canada.
For the past few years, my school community school community at St. Joseph’s College School in downtown Toronto has recognized October the 4th as a day to honour the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and Two-Spirited People. Since 2017, our school community has worked collectively to use art and activism to spread awareness around this day in hopes of creating change. This is an important issue to us; being a school for girls and young women, gendered violence resonates particularly with our student population.
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As your school commemorates Orange Shirt Day this year, we hope these 5 resources and teaching ideas will equip you to teach your students (and colleagues) about Canada's Residential Schools, and inspire and empower students to create a meaningful response.
On March 31st, 2019, Facing History and Ourselves in collaboration with the Art Gallery of Ontario partnered with Durham District School Board, Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board, Peel District School Board, Toronto District School Board, Toronto Catholic District School Board and York Region District School Board to host a day long educator conference to discuss ways educators and institutional leaders have worked, and can work to decolonize and Indigenize education.
Topics: Truth and Reconciliation, Indigenous History, Culturally Responsive and Relevant Pedagogy, Indigenous, difficult conversations, trc, stolen lives, settler eucators, Treaty, Sacred Circle Teachings, Decolonizing Schools, Facing Canada
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.
When I graduated from teacher’s college, my goal was to teach high school music and history. I wanted to have discussions about the people and choices that shape society, the injustices of the past, and the levers that we have to create change. I spent a year supplying, and then in 2014/2015 I was got a position - much to my surprise - in a grade one classroom, and the following year, in a grade five/six split classroom.
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?