How was your celebration of Indigenous Peoples Day? We are all at different entry points as far as Indigenous education goes. I think 99% of my learning has happened in adulthood and I still have a long way to go. I read, watch and listen to Indigenous Peoples so I can move forward as a settler in a good way but it’s not always clear what I should do next and I admit, I stumble along the way. In 2021, the discovery of unmarked graves at residential schools confirmed the horrific stories I had heard previously. It left me feeling guilty, hollow, and unsure how to help. When attending webinars and presentations I heard Indigenous people saying that education is a critical factor in improving relations. We are educators and we can make a difference.
Indigenous Peoples Day gives us a chance to celebrate the joy, humour, music, art, dance and storytelling of Indigenous Peoples. This year we formed a committee to create a slide deck with some suggestions for the various grades in our school. I’ve included some of the links below.
It would be better to have people present in a live, interactive format rather than relying on video. This is an improvement I would like to see made in the future at my school. Dancers, storytellers, artists, musicians, scientists, writers and other guest speakers who are First Nation, Métis or Inuit have given fantastic presentations to my students in the past. If you want a speaker for June 21st, you have to book months in advance and be prepared to offer alternate dates. For example, I noticed that our local municipality offered a celebration of Indigenous Peoples on June 25 at the local library and the event included drummers, beading and food.
Another part of our day included encouraging classes to spend time outside and reflect on their relationship with the land. What does the land look like where you live? How is it used? What can we do to protect and give back to the land? Similarly, what can you do to protect water where you live? Our relationship with the land is the key part of the land acknowledgement that our school reads every day and our students can benefit from outdoor experiences that help them become more aware of the interdependence of all living things.
I hope you were able to learn, laugh and celebrate on Indigenous Peoples Day. There are numerous events throughout the summer to celebrate with Indigenous Peoples and reconnect with the land. Hopefully we will all have plenty of opportunities to do so! Here are some links that our staff and K-8 students used this year: