The Upper Canada District School Board (UCDSB) hosted a district-wide Indigenous gathering from May 6 to May 9 for students in Grades 5 and 6. The fourth annual event gave students the opportunity to learn about the traditions and culture of Inuit, Métis, Ojibway, Mohawk and Algonquin peoples, as well as the history and legacy of residential schools in Canada.
Over the course of the four days, 16 schools participated with close to 900 students. On the first day at each location, a feast was held in the evening for the hosting communities and dignitaries.
Each day saw 150 to 250 students move through five different presenter sessions. Dion (Stranger) Metcalfe taught students Inuit games and culture; Tammy and Bernard Nelson talked to students about Anishinaabe culture and provided truths about residential schools, as Bernard is a residential school survivor; David Jock and Frances Derouchie shared the making and using of traditional medicines and instruments of the Mohawk people; Archie and Pierrette Martin taught students about Métis history; and Danka Brewer engaged students in drumming, teaching them songs from the Algonquin First Nation. As well at each gathering and feast the Lanark drummers shared traditional songs.
“This event is one of a kind in school boards. We are so fortunate that we have these relationships established with Knowledge Keepers and Elders in the community, and are able to organize this vast event each year,” said Gail Brant-Terry, Principal of Indigenous Education. “This event supports the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s action items, and I’m so proud that we are able to engage our students with these authentic teachings.”
Students engaged in learning about Indigenous culture and history during the school year, which was supported by visits from Indigenous Elders and Knowledge Keepers to their classroom and professional learning for educators. Last week’s events put that learning front and centre, allowing students to make real-life connections.
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