Bluewater District School Board continues to honour its longstanding commitment to invite dialogue and foster in-depth learning regarding the history and culture of Indigenous peoples. During Treaties Recognition Week, a provincially designated awareness occasion which occurs this year from November 5 to 11, we join other Ontarians in promoting public education and awareness about treaties and treaty relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous citizens.
What's happening in Bluewater?
Once again, Bluewater schools are demonstrating their support across various grade levels through curriculum related learning activities that focus on the history of treaties. Some examples include:
Guest speakers are visiting G.C. Huston Public School in Southampton, Saugeen District Secondary School in Port Elgin, and Peninsula Shores District School in Wiarton to share presentations with students that broaden treaties awareness while depicting some of the untold stories of Canada’s past and present.
Saugeen District is also planning a school wide art based treaty activity for all students to take part in, while an art exhibit is being coordinated down the road at Northport Elementary School.
At Hillcrest Central School in Teeswater, the Remembrance Day assembly will focus on the roles that Indigenous peoples played in the two World Wars, including recognition of the special skill sets that they brought to the war effort.
Many classes from Keppel-Sarawak Elementary School in Owen Sound are learning about the sculptures in the Kelso Beach area, created by Virginia Gail Smith, in consultation with the Saugeen First Nation and Neyaashiinigmiing, Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation. This includes taking the self-guided “Walking Tour Toward Truth and Reconciliation”, which is an initiative of the First United Truth and Reconciliation Circle (in partnership with Nikaanaganaa Counselling and Learning Centre, Susan Schank, Great Lakes Métis Council of Saugeen Ojibway Nation, and knowledge keepers of the traditional territory in which Bruce and Grey Counties are located).
At Beavercrest Community School in Markdale, two Indigenous students are leading class presentations about treaties to explain what they are and how they failed to be actualized as they were presented to Indigenous peoples, as well as the importance of honouring the culture, beliefs, and values of others. A full school celebration is also planned on the story and culture of Indigenous peoples through song, dance, and art works. Students are being invited to colour and post throughout the school different works of arts that adhere to this theme.
Macphail Memorial Elementary School in Flesherton is introducing students to the Seven Grandfather Teachings by focusing on one each day. Morning announcements are being utilized to learn about the importance of the various teachings, how each is portrayed by an animal, and honouring their interconnectedness. Each student is painting a “value rock” that recognizes the Grandfather Teaching that is most central to their way of life. It is a great opportunity for students to learn more about Indigenous peoples and their cultural values that continue to guide us today.
Several resources developed by the Ministry of Education have also been made available to assist educators as they incorporate treaties related learning into the curriculum.
“Expanding the Ontario curriculum to include the history and legacy of residential schools, and the true history of the colonization of our Indigenous peoples is something for which I have continued to advocate, with the support of my fellow trustees. Acknowledging the history of treaties and how these agreements continue today is a positive step in ensuring that this critically important subject matter is continually embedded in our teachings,” says Bluewater District School Board Trustee Marg Gaviller.
“During Treaties Recognition Week, it is important to recognize the hard and thoughtful work of our Bluewater staff across many levels, who continue to push the conversation and cultivate learning and awareness to ensure that our students become active participants in Canada’s long journey towards reconciliation,” says Superintendent of Education Lori Wilder.
Learn more about Treaties Recognition Week by clicking here. For information about the history of treaties and treaty relationships, please visit www.ontario.ca/treaties.
Beyond Treaties Recognition Week, a number of Indigenous themed awareness initiatives are being planned in Bluewater. Saugeen District Secondary School will host learning activities for staff during the November 24, 2017 Professional Activity Day that focus on cultural competency, and implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action. Peninsula Shores District School will also be offering four staff sessions led by the Southwest Ontario Aboriginal Health Access Centre on cultural sensitivity training. A broad range of topics will include life cycle wheel teachings, a historical overview of residential schools and colonization, trauma informed education that focuses on Indigenous issues, anti-racism response, witnessing, and what it means to be an ally.