In 2015, the
Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to action document was published and shared with Canadians. Its purpose is to "redress the legacy of residential schools and advance the process of Canadian reconciliation". The report outlines 94 calls to action urging all levels of government — federal, provincial, territorial and Indigenous — to work together to change policies and programs in a concerted effort to repair the harm caused by residential schools and move forward with an understanding of our collective role in reconciliation. Sections 62.1 and 63.1, 3, and 4 under "Education for Reconciliation" state:
62 - We call upon the federal, provincial, and territorial governments, in consultation and collaboration with Survivors, Aboriginal peoples, and educators, to:
Make age-appropriate curriculum on residential schools, Treaties, and Aboriginal peoples' historical and contemporary contributions to Canada a mandatory education requirement for Kindergarten to Grade Twelve students.
63- We call upon the Ministers of Education in Canada to maintain an annual commitment to Aboriginal education issues, including:
i. Developing and implementing Kindergarten to Grade Twelve curriculum and learning resources on Aboriginal peoples in Canadian history, and the history and legacy of residential schools.
iii. Building student capacity for intercultural understanding, empathy, and mutual respect.
iv. Identifying teacher-training needs relating to the above.
The Louis Riel School Division is committed to Indigenous student success, incorporating Indigenous knowledge and perspectives, Indigenous language instruction, and reconciliation reflected in Divisional Policies
IFC - Commitment to Indigenous Perspectives in Education,
IHAH-2 - Indigenous Language Instruction in Schools, and
IHB - Commitment to Indigenous Student Achievement.
In the 2018-2019 school year, staff from Marion School staff and the Indigenous Learning Team began a working group on Indigenous education to promote cultural programming for students, staff professional learning, and building community. In September 2018, the working group planned a day of professional learning to kickoff a year of deep and meaningful experiences and activities for staff and students including:
Kindergarten to Grade 3 Ojibwe Language Exposure
Our Kindergarten, Grade 1, 2, and 3 students had the opportunity to learn about Ojibwe language and cultures twice a cycle taught by Ms. Lenaghan. The Ojibwe Language Exposure Program is nature based and play based and is created on the Ojibwe Circle of Life. Half of the lessons occur outdoors, weather permitting. The content of the lessons focuses on Ojibwe perspectives and cultural teachings of the earth, plants, animals, the sky, water, fire, the sun and moon, and human beings. The lesson content reaches across the science, math, social studies, literacy, flora, and fauna domains.
Indigenous Student Leadership
A group of grades 4, 5, and 6 students known as "The Teachings of Hope" referred to by the students as TTOH came together to learn and grow and become leaders for the Marion School community with a focus on Indigenous perspectives. This group participated in year-long by-weekly meetings with focused topics chosen by the students. TTOH worked together to create a Treaty Acknowledgment on behalf of Marion School which was shared on the morning announcements. Guests, knowledge keepers and Elders were invited to share tobacco teachings and Grandfather rock teachings. The students also had the opportunity to study residential schools and their "legacy" and lead the
Orange Shirt Day school wide day of recognition. They spent time researching community-based programs such as
The Mama Bear Clan and decided to support the group by baking, donating and delivering bannock and bottled water to them. TTOH took time to learn about and care for Mother Earth in a sustainable way. As a year-end celebration of community and culture, TTOH planned and organized a week of activities and learning opportunities for members of our learning community culminating in an assembly for Indigenous Peoples Day where many student groups performed.
Student Cultural Performance Groups
Two classrooms learned, carried and shared drum songs at the end of the school year. The grade 4, 5, and 6 students performed both at the
LRSD Graduation PowWow and the year-end assembly, while our grade 1, 2, and 3 groups performed at the year-end assembly, all wearing ribbon shirts and skirts made by staff at Marion School. We also had students take part in the Pow Wow as dancers wearing regalia designed and made by family and LRSD staff members. It is in thanks to the Marion and LRSD community that our students have had the opportunities to learn, grow and lead in a good way.
Circle of Courage
Throughout the school year staff and students focused on the Circle of Courage as ways we understand ourselves and others. The Circle of Courage is based on the Medicine Wheel, which for First Nations people of Manitoba represents the need for all things to be in balance and harmony. The four colours represent teachings and understandings of how we look after each other and the environment, while on the four points of the cross are the crucial developmental needs of children: belonging, mastery, independence and generosity.
We have begun focusing on Belonging and how we can create environments where all students feel that they are loved and cared for. We also have a responsibility to work together to ensure that everyone feels they belong. Belonging is Marion School's central focus because students first must have a sense of belonging before they can move onto mastery in learning, independence of self, and generosity of spirit. A sense of Belonging is most successful when applied to all in a system: students, teachers, support staff, and administration – we all need to belong.
As we continue this collective journey with staff, students, and families, the goal at Marion School is to build on this work and continue creating a community where Indigenous ways of knowing and being are celebrated and part of the fabric of all aspects of instruction, school culture, and interpersonal relationships.