"Put on this Indigenous lens." This was one of several powerful messages on identity and stigma shared with principals, teachers, and other administrators at the Indigenous Education Educator Forum on Tuesday, November 14, 2017 at the Bluewater District School Board Education Centre.
The full day forum provided an opportunity for participants to engage in facilitated discussions that focused on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada's recommendations, including ways to integrate the findings into classroom teachings and build relationships with
Indigenous communities. The subject matter was delivered in a very touching and personalized way, as key note speaker Eddy Robinson shared anecdotes that detailed the hardships and triumphs faced during his life journey, which have led to his current profession as an accomplished speaker, educator, writer, and Indigenous artist.
The itinerary also included a discussion on trauma-informed education led by Natasha Lubimiv, a social worker at the Owen Sound site of the Southwest Ontario Aboriginal Health Access Centre. Participants engaged in brainstorming and learned about incorporating strategies and supports to embrace a more trauma-informed approach, specifically as it relates to Indigenous students.
Principal/teacher teams from each school were provided with information to share with all school staff to initiate conversations and learning opportunities supporting Bluewater’s strategic priority to “provide quality instruction and learning experiences in an equitable and inclusive environment.” Teachers from both the elementary and secondary panels were represented at the forum.
Indigenous themed staff training is ongoing in Bluewater. During the November 24, 2017 Professional Activity Day, Saugeen District Secondary School will offer learning that focuses on cultural competency and the implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s recommendations. The Southwest Ontario Aboriginal Health Access Centre has also been visiting Peninsula Shores District School to lead four sessions on cultural sensitivity training. Topics 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.