Board honours traditional territory
Honouring Indigenous culture will be part of daily morning announcements at Simcoe County District School Board schools.
Timed with Treaties Recognition Week, the new traditional-territory acknowledgement will eventually also be heard at school board meetings and special events.
Before beginning their studies, students will now hear board facilities are situated on the traditional land of the Anishnaabeg people.
“We acknowledge the enduring presence of First Nation, Métis and Inuit people on this land and are committed to moving forward in the spirit of reconciliation and respect,” the announcement will state.
The Anishnaabeg include the Ojibwe, Odawa, and Potawatomi nations, collectively known as the Three Fires Confederacy.
Tove Wilson, an Indigenous education teacher, recently spoke to Grade 4 students at Portage View Public School in Barrie who were just starting their learning journey about the treaties.
“I think it’s about a greater awareness of the promise when treaties were garnered originally and that all nations need to work together and respect each other and share the land,” she said of the morning announcement for students.
While Wilson engages her students in the classroom, a colourful sign on the wall behind her — We Are All Treaty People — is front and centre.
“It’s important because it’s not just about Indigenous people; it’s about all people,” she said after having a sharing circle on the classroom’s medicine-wheel carpet.
“It took two different groups of people to make the treaties, so it takes those two groups of people to honour them now.
“We need to respect both nations.”
All of us, whether we are Indigenous or non-Indigenous, are treaty people, and we have a responsibility to reinforce that understanding in school communities, said Alison Bradshaw, the board’s principal of Indigenous education.
“We can all benefit from learning about the histories, cultures, contributions and perspectives of First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples in Canada,” she said.
Stuart Finlayson, a board superintendent, said while there is no provincial mandate to incorporate the acknowledgement in the morning announcements at schools, it has a role to play.
“It is an important act of reconciliation founded in the ‘calls to action’ from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission,” he said. “It is our hope that students will take their learning and discussions from their schools and classrooms and share that with their parents.”
Letters will go home to parents system-wide outlining the addition of a daily land acknowledgement in schools, he added.
Tove Wilson, left, of the Simcoe County District School Board, takes part in a sharing circle with students, from left, Reanna, Ava, Miriah, Jimmy and Hudson while seated on a medicine-wheel carpet. It was part of Treaties Recognition Week activities.