Board hon­ours tra­di­tional ter­ri­tory

Packet & Times (Orillia) - - FRONT PAGE - IAN MCINROY

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.

IAN MCINROY/POST­MEDIA NET­WORK

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.

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