As a teacher who is not First Nations, Métis or Inuit, I consider myself an ally or as a Haudenosaunee colleague once called me a champion. (although I find the latter rather extreme). I, like most raised in Canada grew up in a colonized education system. This was one of the biggest issues I had to overcome, when I made the conscious decision to challenge the norms in my classroom and do my best to follow the recommendations that were made back in 2007 by the Ministry of Education in the Ontario First Nation, Métis, and Inuit Education Policy Framework.
My initial motivation for beginning my journey into infusing Indigenous knowledge and practices into my courses regardless of subject was inspired by a student, who identified as “half Native” who admitted that he knew nothing about his heritage other than “they were all drunks”. My heart broke a little that day that this student was believing the stereotypes about his own people. I suggested to my principal and staff that we offer a Native Studies course in order to try and remedy this obvious problem. I quickly came to the realization that I had a lot to learn myself as I had never been taught the material in all the years I had spent in school. I was admittedly scared. My fear of teaching a topic which I was still learning about and the bigger fear that I would screw it up and do a large injustice to my students despite my best interests; was overwhelming. With talking to my colleagues I quickly came to realize that I was not alone. It was this common fear or at least apprehension that became my driving force; I just didn’t know where to start. Luckily my school board had recently started an Aboriginal Education Centre which was my saving grace. I quickly started taking every workshop and PD session that I could in order to educate myself. Now 8 years later I am the go to person at my school when teachers have questions and want resources as to how to incorporate FNMI content into their classes.
Recently I have had conversations with my colleagues and there still exists a great deal of confusion and apprehension as to how they can incorporate FNMI knowledge and practices. They see the worth, but they have the same fears that I did. It was my own personal experiences and those of my colleagues which has lead to my taking the Native Studies Additional Qualification as well as start this inquiry into the best practices of incorporating Indigenous knowledge and learning styles into all classes in my school, and hopefully encourage the practice in other schools as well.
The following posts in this section will deal with their own individual topic which will hopefully make it a little easier to navigate and find the information that you may require at any given time.