Last Summer when I was in New South Wales, Australia visiting schools I was amazed at how progressive the Australian Education system was in recognizing the history and culture of their indigenous peoples. The story of Australian Aboriginal peoples is not that different from our own in that a Eurocentric culture settled the lands with little regard for those people who have been there for centuries and have had a past history of treatment of these people very poorly.
In Australia, like Canada has had a formal apology by the Leadership of the National government in power and in the case of Australia they formally noticed recognize the date every year by calling it “Sorry Day”. I thought at the time how great that was to every year acknowledge it publically.
Our historic moment with Prime Minister Harper is shown in the following video.
Anyway, fast forward to this fall and we have seen Grand Erie in alignment of other school boards of province opening it’s mind and heart to the local indigneous peoples and while this does not change or maybe even balance out things it does show much needed progress.
Most recently we dedicated a full day of Administrator PD to expanding our understanding of Indigenous cultures and language.
The afternon involve a Kairos Blanket exercise that deeply moved the hearts and minds of all those participating. It really help people see that our history that we learned in school of Canada and Ontario was very different that our indigenous brothers and sisters experienced.
Lastly, a small but very important policy was P2 Honouring Indigenous, History Cultures and Traditions was supported by our trustees in alignment with the 2015, Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) of Canada which concluded its work resulting in 94 far reaching Calls to Action, including a number specifically focused on education, covering residential school history, recognition of treaties and the effects of colonialism, in order to redress the legacy of residential schools and advance the process of Canadian reconciliation.
Policy P2 states Grand Erie District School Board:
- Will read an acknowledgement statement (suggested example below) at the opening of each Committee of the Whole and Regular Board Meeting and ensure that the acknowledgement statement is read at all Grand Erie meetings.
The Grand Erie District School Board recognizes the Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe people, as the traditional peoples of this territory. We acknowledge and give gratitude to the Indigenous peoples for sharing these lands in order for us to continue our work here today.
- Will encourage schools to include the acknowledgement of the Indigenous people of the land in their opening exercises and at other school events as deemed appropriate by the Principal
- Will build understanding of the Indigenous knowledge, culture, and history, including the impact of residential schools and perspectives into curriculum delivery.
- Will support the development and implementation of learning resources that work to heighten the understanding of Indigenous history, cultures and traditions.