Indigenous Peoples Awareness Month
Moving from reconciliation to ReconciliACTION
As KPR’s inaugural Indigenous Peoples Awareness Month draws to a close, KPR is pleased to share a challenge raised by several guest speakers: What steps will each of us take to improve our understanding of, and relationships with, Indigenous peoples in Canada?
Several speakers challenged students, staff, parents and community members to read the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action, made in response to the Commission’s inquiry into the sad history and legacy of residential schools.
“Reconciliation isn’t something we do because we feel sorry for Indigenous people,” said Kevin Lamoureux, National Education Lead for the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation Centre in Winnipeg. “It’s an opportunity for all Canadians to enter into a mutually beneficial relationship.
“The 94 Calls to Action are our roadmap home,” he explained. “We will get to a place where we have a better relationship with one another as Canadians.”
Patrick Madahbee, Grand Council Chief of the Anishinabek Nation in Ontario, expressed similar views on the importance of taking action. “Every country has its dark history. That’s why it is so important that we turn over a new leaf…and embrace everybody.
“We are all treaty people, because we are all descendants of the people who signed the treaties” that outlined how Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians would share the land and resources, he stressed. “We can teach each other things…we’ve been sharing the land for hundreds of years. We need to work together.”
Both Grand Chief Madahbee and Kevin Lamoureux pointed to the important role today’s young people play, and will continue to play, in enhancing Canadians’ relationships with one another and with Mother Earth.
“The young people are really going to be the warriors” in working to protect the natural environment and to improve relationships among all Canadians, Grand Chief Madahbee said. “Things are changing for the better.”
“Young people have an incredible ability to create change,” agreed Kevin Lamoureux. “You have to make a choice…do you want to be part of the solution? Be a champion of reconciliation.”
The 94 Calls to Action are available for all Canadians to read at http://nctr.ca/research-pages.php#cta
Interested in seeing how the KPR school board is taking action? Visit our First Nation, Métis and Inuit page
Our Schools Recognizing Indigenous Peoples Awareness Month
Inuit athlete, leader enthralls students, staff
Students had a fascinating glimpse into life in Nunavut when they welcomed multiple-medal-winning, self-described “proud Inuit and proud Canadian” athlete, actor and community leader Johnny Issaluk.
“I shot my first caribou when I was five years old. I built my first igloo when I was 12,” he said. “My grandmother was an accomplished hunter. My parents lived nomadically, and that’s only a generation away…I am very fortunate that I know my traditions.
“When we’re hunting, we only catch what we need,” he explained. “We share everything we catch with our fellow hunters and neighbours…we are all connected, with other people, the animals, the land, the air.”
Johnny’s visit was one of many special events held in November to mark the Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board’s inaugural Indigenous Peoples Awareness Month. He brought his high-energy presentation to Clarke High School and The Pines Senior Public School in Newcastle, and East Northumberland Secondary School in Brighton.
Johnny demonstrated, and involved students and staff in trying, traditional Inuit games in which he has won more than 200 medals. “These were originally games of survival,” he explained. “They developed agility, strength and endurance,” all attributes that Inuit hunters needed to successfully feed their families and communities.
In one traditional game, Johnny jumped from a standing position to kick a small piece of sealskin hanging well over two metres in the air. In another, he bounded around the stage on just his knuckles and toes. The games that involved audience members revolved around body strength.
Johnny finished his presentation with sage advice. “I won over 200 medals, but lost 300 or 400 times in between. But I kept working at it,” he said. “Believe in yourself and you can accomplish anything. Be good to yourself, respect yourself…and there are no limits. No matter how tough or painful it gets, you are tougher.”
Both students and staff were clearly “pumped” by the presentation, with many teachers discussing how they could adapt Inuit knowledge and culture in their classrooms. “I have never experienced any of the Inuit games,” teacher April Berry said after trying her hand – or, more accurately, her arm – at a game of strength. “It was really unique.”
And, as students exited the gym following the presentation, one word could be heard often: “Cool.”
Learning About Treaties at Warsaw Public School
One had only to listen to Warsaw Public School students after presentations by Curve Lake First Nation’s Anne Taylor to know the students had truly taken in what they had heard about Indigenous peoples.
In honour of the Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board’s inaugural Indigenous Peoples Awareness Month, Anne – a Cultural Archivist at Curve Lake – offered two presentations in Warsaw. She spoke to Kindergarten-Grade 3 students about the meaning of treaties, using a story about a squirrel and chipmunk learning to share the same tree and the seeds it produced.
For Grades 4-8 students, she used the Blanket Exercise to illustrate Indigenous peoples’ history, experiences and relationships with non-Indigenous peoples and governments in Canada.
Speaking about the reasons behind her presentations to students, Anne explained: “It’s important because we are all treaty people. We are all affected by treaties that our people and the government signed, and many people don’t know that.”
Clearly, the students got the message. Asked afterwards about what they had learned, the youngest ones defined treaties thus: “It’s an agreement.” “It’s important to be kind.” “We all need to follow rules.”
After the presentation to the older group, Marcus Elia’s Grade 7s wrote down what they had learned about treaties, residential schools, loss of Indigenous lands, and much more. “The students were all just quietly listening and engaging in the presentation,” says Marcus, who later showed the students’ notes to Anne Taylor. “This is how they become better informed, and can carry forward their knowledge to others.”
“This school has been working on teaching all kids about Indigenous history and culture for the past two to three years, trying to grow their understanding,” explains Principal Janice Mackenzie. Morning announcements have focused on First Nations’ Seven Grandfather Teachings, facts about local First Nations, and acknowledgement that the school is located on traditional Mississauga First Nations territory.
A section of the school library has been dedicated to First Nation, Métis and Inuit books and resources. The School Council also has been successful in obtaining a provincial Parents Reaching Out grant for evening workshops for families to attend. The engaging, interactive workshops will involve families in arts, games, stories and foods, all with an Indigenous focus.
Following Anne Taylor’s presentations, the students proudly told her what they had learned on announcements that morning. “Miigwech,” they said. “That means thank you in Ojibwe.”
Community Events for Indigenous Peoples Awareness Month
In February, 2017, the Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board was pleased to adopt a recommendation from its Indigenous Education Advisory Committee to recognize the month of November as Indigenous Peoples Awareness Month. The month of November was chosen because of other special dates and events in November, including Treaty Recognition Week, Louis Riel Day and Inuit Day.
All students, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous, are enriched by learning about the histories, cultures, contributions and perspectives of First Nation, Metis and Inuit peoples in Canada.
We are committed to championing Indigenous education, achievement and awareness in our schools and within our organization as a whole.
There are several community events scheduled this month. Everyone is welcome, pre-registration is not required.
November 15, 2017
Movie Presentation (Silent Thunder)
Special Guest Speakers – Shirley Williams, Professor Emeritus, Trent University, Wikwemikong First Nation, Residential School Survivor, and Kevin Lamoureux, National Education Lead for the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation in Winnipeg
LOCATION & TIME
Cobourg Collegiate Institute
7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
November 20, 2017
Movie (Colonization Road)
Moderator – Dr. Dawn Lavell-Harvard, Director, First Peoples House of Learning at Trent University
Trent University – First Peoples Gathering Space, East Bank Site
5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
November 22, 2017
Special Guest Speaker – Anishinabek Nation Grand Chief Patrick Madahbee
Clarington Central Secondary School
7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
November 27, 2017
Movie (Muffins for Granny)
Special Guest Speaker – Nadia McLaren, Artist, Filmmaker, 3rd Generation Residential School Survivor
Kenner Collegiate Vocational Institute
7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
November 5-11 is Treaties Recognition Week in Ontario
Treaties Recognition Week is a time to learn about the importance of treaties in Ontario.
Ontario is covered by 46 treaties and other agreements, such as land purchases by the Crown. These agreements were signed between 1781 and 1930.
Schools within the Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board sit on land within the Williams Treaties of 1923, signed with the Mississauga and Chippewa Nations. The Williams Treaties First Nations include the Mississaugas of Alderville First Nation, Curve Lake First Nation, and Hiawatha First Nation, as well as other neighbouring First Nations.
Treaties helped to establish relationships between First Nations and Europeans, and between people and the land.
To learn more about Treaties and access other resources, please visit our Indigenous Education page.
You may also wish to visit the Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation’s website: https://www.ontario.ca/page/ministry-indigenous-relations-and-reconciliation