Leora Schaefer, Executive Director for Facing History and Ourselves Canada and Jasmine Wong, Senior Program Associate at Facing History and Ourselves Canada, introduce the new office space and share some thoughts and upcoming opportunities for Canadian educators for the start of the school year.
When I first found out I was teaching Families in Canada, a grade 12 Family Studies course, I immediately began to consider how I could embed Indigenous perspectives within my course. So often, as history teachers we tend to focus on significant events where Indigenous Peoples experience discrimination. What Facing History and Ourselves' pedagogy reminds me is to acknowledge the resiliency, distinctiveness and contemporary life of the many Indigenous peoples in Canada, their cultures and civilizations in my teaching. This seemed like a perfect opportunity to do both.
In spring of 2017, five high schools from across the GTA participated in “Decolonizing Schools Together,” a project started by Facing History and Ourselves’ Canadian office in consultation with Traditional Ojibway Grandmother, Kim Wheatley, Shkoden Neegan Waawaaskonen,of Shawanaga First Nation. Recently, we spoke to Kim and to the teachers who supported students through the Decolonizing Schools Together Project to share their reflections and progress.
How do I promote equity and inspire social justice as an educator when I’m not in a social studies or humanities classroom - or in a classroom at all? This was the question that both shifted and drove new passion into my work this past year as an Instructional Coach. Stepping out of the classroom this year was a transition. I was really missing the opportunity to inspire equity and social justice as I had in my classroom. As teachers requested my support, most often with math, I found myself starving for activism and ways to get involved in equity and inclusion beyond academic instruction. Then I went to a meeting that shifted my thinking, and gave me new insight into how I could continue to pursue equity and social justice no matter what the subject.
This fall, after a suggestion from Jasmine Wong from Facing History and Ourselves, I decided to explore The Truth About Stories: A Native Narrative, by Thomas King with my grade 11 English students. I was familiar with the text but it would be the first time I would be using it in my classroom. When I was in school we were rarely encouraged to be critical thinkers and we certainly were not encouraged to seek out the stories that make up our land. My goal was to learn with my students and explore and make connections. I was going to use the idea of the Oral Story as my jumping off point.
Dr. Pamela Rose Toulouse, associate professor in the Faculty of Education at Laurentian University, 3M National Teaching Excellence Fellow and author of Achieving Indigenous Student Success, and Truth and Reconciliation in Canadian Schools frames the role educators can play as allies to Indigenous (and non-Indigenous) students and shares with us several key resources for how to do so.
We are pleased to announce Facing History and Ourselves’ ambitious expansion plans to affect large-scale social change. Over the next three years, we plan to double the number of educators we engage with across Canada and strengthen our innovative work with middle and high school students to create a more informed and engaged citizenry.
Students love music so, when I tell my grade 11 College English classes that they are going to be creating CDs as their first project, students get excited. Inspired by Facing History’s approach to teaching about genocide, I started the “Tracks Of My Life Project” to engage students in exploring the concept of identity that is foundational to our first novel, Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese.
In my grade 10 Canadian history class, I often used excerpts from Joseph Boyden’s Three Day Road to explore what life was like for soldiers during WWI. In this novel, protagonist Xavier Bird returns to Northern Ontario in 1919 after fighting in France and Belgium. He is met by his aunt Niska, an Oji-Cree woman, and the two travel back to their village. On this journey, the two recount traumatic experiences from their past - Xavier as a soldier returning from the front and Niska as a survivor of residential schools.
Topics: Canada, Canadian History, Truth and Reconciliation, Indigenous History, Book, Indigenous, English Classroom, big paper, English, Grade 10 History, CHC, difficult conversations, trc, stolen lives, settler educators
What happens when we support and empower students to bring history and identity into our school community? Meet Nyjah, a Toronto-area student who wanted to see more black history and contributions reflected in her high school, and decided to do something about it. The following interview was contributed by Nyjah about her experiences.