In the Halton District School Board’s 2020-2024 Multi-Year Strategic Plan, the Indigenous Perspectives and Awareness area of focus promotes knowledge and understanding of truths, histories, ongoing impacts of colonialism, and current realities of Indigenous peoples.
The HDSB’s approach to providing Indigenous education is centred on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. These formative documents are integral in designing and developing learning opportunities for students and the broader community to understand the historical and ongoing impacts of colonialism.
In consultation with Indigenous experts, the HDSB Indigenous Rights and Education team works with staff across the system to build informed knowledge and understanding to enable staff to critically examine and apply their learning to classroom and department practices. All staff in the HDSB have the opportunity to take part in learning sessions from Indigenous speakers on topics such as science, Two Spirit identities, Indigenous rights and the ongoing impacts of settler colonialism.
This year, the following learning opportunities have been provided to students across the Board:
- D'Scribe, Anishinaabe/Mi'qmaq, spoken word artist/poet, shared his poetry and worked with students on creating their own in multiple elementary and secondary classes.
- Nancy Rowe, Michizaagiig, Ojibwe, Anishinaabe Kwe spoke to secondary students about treaties and the history of the land we are on.
- Isaac Murdoch, Ojibwe, explored with secondary students the true history regarding treaties
- HDSB Indigenous Knowledge Guide and Itinerant Resource Teachers for Indigenous Rights and Education worked in elementary and secondary classrooms to build upon learning about Indigenous histories, treaties, rights, excellence and current realities.
- Wilfred Buck, Cree, provided an overview of the night sky from the Cree perspective and demonstrated how Indigenous knowledge systems can help to advance the fields of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).
Engagement with Indigenous community members includes ongoing consultation with the Treaty partner, the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation. It also takes place through consultation with the HDSB Indigenous Education Advisory Council, which consists of a Treaty partner and Halton Indigenous parents. This council provides input on the direction of work that benefits self-identified Indigenous students, staff and families including policy development and identity affirming activities.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action number 62 calls upon educators to develop age appropriate curriculum on residential schools and treaties. Knowledge building around the residential school system and the historical and contemporary realities related to First Nations, Métis and Inuit are key for all students to learn and understand.
Through the Principles of Truth and Reconciliation, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is the framework for reconciliation at all levels and across all sectors of Canadian society. As Treaty people, understanding and upholding Indigenous rights and treaty relationships is the basis for maintaining mutually respectful relationships.
Through treaty education, students from Kindergarten through Grade 12 learn the importance of their roles and responsibilities of being in a treaty relationship. Students engage in inquiry-based and experiential learning opportunities to make applicable connections to this relationship.
To centre Indigenous voices in the classroom, educators use Indigenous voices such as videos and stories written by Indigenous authors, and engage in virtual experiences with Indigenous artists, poets, scientists, authors, experts, and land protectors to showcase the beauty and brilliance of First Nations, Inuit and Métis across this land.
The HDSB stands behind and upholds the Indigenous Perspectives and Awareness area of focus in the 2020-2024 Multi-Year Plan. Together, we must do more than just talk about reconciliation, we must learn how to practice reconciliation in our everyday lives, within ourselves and our families, our schools and communities.