First Nations, Metis & Inuit in French Second Language

Almost two years ago, I got pretty upset about the price discrepancy between food in northern Canadian areas and the rest of Canada.  As I dug deeper into my inquiry, I discovered that yes, the food costs more to ship to the North, but federal funding was being mismanaged by the food stores.

So, I joined a Facebook group “Helping Our Northern Neighbours” and I shipped a few boxes to a couple of families requesting assistance.  Sending boxes of goods by no means solved the food price issue issue (and it’s a complex one!).  However, taking action felt good.  My kids got involved too.

This week, #fslchat’s topic was about the FNMI perspective in FSL.  In the concluding question, I encouraged people to read “The Truth and Reconciliation Commissions Calls for Action” which you can find here.  It’s not a quick read, there are 94 recommendations.

My purpose in reading them was to follow up on a question that a colleague, Sarah Sanders, came up with.

As an FSL educator, how can I be an ally in truth & reconciliation?  Where do we fit in?

I feel like a lot of the calls for action are by different levels of government.

I don’t know if the analogy works, but for me it’s like a struggling student in my classroom.  Do I wait for an official diagnosis or assessment before providing the supports or accommodations that they need?  We can’t wait for the government to respond to all of these calls to action before taking some action ourselves.

The following (#63) was the one that struck the biggest chord for me:

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The third one down (iii) and the fourth (iv) made me think of Cliff Kraeker, a chat participant this week, who is currently volunteering two days per week in two First Nation schools in his area.  I’ve met Cliff a few times and from his interactions on Twitter, I know that he is a “doer”.  And I would add that he is always calling out others to take action beyond their words as well.

The first and second on the list above call to me.  I feel like I’ve just started my journey here.  We’ve had our first FNMI #fslchat on Twitter, which prompted me to explore some resources and best practice resources that I had not before.  I was very grateful to my colleague Sarah for steering me in the right direction.  But I still have a lot to learn.

During this chat, I learned that the best resource is someone from the First Nations, Metis or Inuit community coming into the classroom and sharing their experiences.

The two following pictures got a lot of retweets too.  I have to admit, I don’t even know where they are from.  But they almost seem like those Universal Design type things – what may benefit a few is actually good for all.

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My next action is to read the following PDF.  It’s history I feel that I “know” but perhaps with the FNMI lens that was missing from my own History education.  The English version is called “They Came for the Children”.

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I’m also going to visit the display “100 Years of Loss” installation at TVDSB.  It’s on display until the 19th of May.

Because I can’t do better until I know better.

I need to understand the “truth” better before I can be a part of reconciling.

Maybe Cliff will invite me and the baby out to one of his First Nations schools sometime…

What can you commit to?

The world is full of big, messy problems that need solving and to be reconciled, if you will.  How can we equip our students, the future adults of the world, to tackle them?  I wonder if some of the solutions couldn’t be helped by a medicine wheel type approach.

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What’s your next step?  What are you already working on? Which of the calls to action speak to you?

6 Responses

  1. Sarah Sanders at |

    Jen,

    You are absolutely right that many of the 94 Calls to Actio require some higher powers that be to make decisions and changes – but in all honesty if we wait for that to happen nothing will every change.

    There are grass roots organizations who are workin to rebuild language and cultural connections, there are teachers who bring FNMI perspectives into the classroom even without specific curriculum guidelines or expecations to meet, there are community members who are sharing their knowledge and partnering with other working groups to affect change. This is where the reconciliation process will become a reality – from the groud up.

    If we wait for those in the “system” to be open to taking “action” we will wait for a long time. There are people willing to listen and there are even people who are willing to talk and male promises, but it will not mean anything until there are actions made.

    Our “action” is to build relationships with our students, their families and FNMI community members. Without a solid trust relationship we cannot make change. We need to be willing to listen to all that is to be said – and not with the purpose of responding, but with the purpose of understanding their goals and needs. Only then can we adequately offer our support.

    Our “action” is to take it upon ourselves to learn the truth about our history. To seek out opportunity to learn from First Peoples and to share the knowledge we acquire with others.

    Our “action” is to have those difficult conversations and to be a voice that advocates for change. There is power in numbers and when enough voices come together to demand change something will have to be done.

    Our “action” is modelling for our students why it is important to learn about multiple perspectives and why we must include all voices in the learning environment. We must show our students that they can achieve anything by flowing their passion. Ultimately they will be the generation who is most capable of lasting, meaningful change.

    Lastly, our “action” is to support each other on our learning journey. We as professionals still have lots to learn, and we are learning at different rates. We need to support each other through the process and help one another manage the ups and downs involved. It is tough subject matter and having support makes all the difference.

    I look forward to continuing my learning journey and being able to support others as they make progress on their own journeys. Thank you for the honour of being able to walk this path with you Jen!

    Sarah

  2. Carol-anne Dendias at |

    Hello Jen- I found your blog through one of Cliff’s tweets. I am the LST at Antler River (Chippewas of the Thames) which is one of the two schools that is so fortunate to benefit from Cliff’s knowledge, experience and “doings”. We would love to have you and baby visit- we have a Children’s Powwow coming up on June 3 if you are interested- dancing, drumming, regalia, lots of food, crafts and activities for the students.
    Carol-anne

  3. Carol-anne Dendias at |

    Grand entry is at 10 (on paper!! It will get going after that) Your older daughters would love it- there will be lots of students there from TVDSB, LDCSB and LKDSB. Admission is $2- you can bring your own lunches or buy stuff here. The activities that we put on are free. There are vendors selling crafts etc. Check out our school Facebook page if you would like to get an idea of what we do out here! (Antler River Elementary School) If you need any more information (directions etc.) send me an email at cadendias@cottares.ca
    I will be working the gate so please introduce yourself!
    Carol-anne

  4. Jen at |

    I will be there!

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