As part of the 2019 Final Report on the Inquiry of Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls, there was a list of calls to action created. As elementary educators our call to action is very clear:
We call upon all elementary, secondary, and post-secondary institutions and education authorities to educate and provide awareness to the public about missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people, and about the issues and root causes of violence they experience. All curriculum development and programming should be done in partnership with Indigenous Peoples, especially Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people. Such education and awareness must include historical and current truths about the genocide against Indigenous Peoples through state laws, policies, and colonial practices. It should include, but not be limited to, teaching Indigenous history, law, and practices from Indigenous perspectives and the use of Their Voices Will Guide Us with children and youth.
Here are three resources to use in your classroom in 2021 to teach your students about the tragedy of Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls:
If I Go Missing by Ojibwe author Brianna Jonnie is an incredible adaptation from a letter that Ms. Jonnie wrote when she was 14 years old to the Winnepeg Police Service. At the time of the letter, Ms. Jonnie implored with the police to “do better” when investigating cases of missing Indigenous peoples. It uses a graphic novel format with incredible artwork by Nshannacappo. The artwork combined with the poignant text tell a very impactful story, especially for those students in the intermediate grades. The book is also incredibly powerful as it challenges the common narratives of Indigenous girls and the messaging about them in the media.
We are More Than Murdered and Missing is an important TED Talk by Tamara Bernard. She shares her personal story of the intergenerational impact of her great grandmother being taken and the legacy of trauma that it had on her family. She also speaks about the portrayal in the media of Indigenous women and girls and how that shapes the self perception of many young Indigenous girls. Ms. Bernard touches on some of the historical policies that created a system for Indigenous women to be devalued. This TED Talk would be valuable as an educator tool or for use in an intermediate classroom.
Their Voices Will Guide Us is an education initiative of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. This Resource is for educators to begin to embed lessons in their program about the systemic causes of violence against Indigenous women and girls in order to take collectively responsibility for their safety. If you are an educator who has wanted to begin to introduce these kinds of lessons but have been hesitant because of lack of knowledge this is an amazing resource for you. It clearly speaks to the need for all educators to continue learning and to not let fear or not knowing everything be a deterrent of starting to introduce this very important topic to your classroom. The educator section is extensive and will provide you with many avenues to continue your learning. The resource also has sections for grades K-4, 5-8 and high school. In each section there are a list of themes that you may want to focus on in your lessons and a list of resources to support your instruction.