Celebrating Indigenous Peoples
By Darlene Cox, FNMI Success Connector, Oilfields School/Longview School
Tuesday, June 21 is National Aboriginal Day in Canada. This is the day then Governor General of Canada, Roméo Leblanc designated 20 years ago to recognize and celebrate Canada’s First Nations, Métis and Inuit culture and their outstanding contributions.
First, I would like to share some information on my background and my work in FSD. I am Métis/Swampy Cree, and I am the division’s First Nations, Métis and Inuit Success Connector. I am based primarily out of the Oilfields and Longview schools. Between the two, there are approximately 65 self-identified First Nations, Métis and Inuit students. Through FSD’s First Nations, Métis and Inuit (FNMI) program, we celebrate and share the diverse indigenous culture of our students.
You may be familiar with the recent Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action, developed by Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission to “redress the legacy of residential schools and advance the process of Canadian reconciliation”.
Oilfields’ FNMI program is leading the way by acting on actions 63.ii and 63.iii:
63. We call upon the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada to maintain an annual commitment to Aboriginal education issues, including:
ii. Sharing information and best practices on teaching curriculum related to residential schools and Aboriginal history.
iii. Building student capacity for intercultural understanding, empathy, and mutual respect.
At Oilfields we have created an area for our FNMI students to share space and culture with other students. “Turtle Lodge” in the Learning Commons showcases the 7 Grandfather Teachings, indigenous medicines, reading materials, indigenous events, and education opportunities, and has become a very popular place for all students. Turtle Lodge was named by 2015 Oilfields graduate Tashena Daniels of the Stoney Nakoda Nation, Eden Valley Band, for Turtle Island, which is what our First Nations people called North America pre-European contact.
At Oilfields we believe it is important to bridge the gap between FNMI students, including their culture and history, with other students. For most FNMI activities we invite all students of Oilfields and Longview to participate, giving students the space and time to build relationships, and gain a better understanding of all cultures and backgrounds.
Students participating in a Blanket Exercise, a tool to share the historic & contemporary relationship between indigenous and non-indigenous peoples in Canada. Blankets arranged on the floor represent land and participants are invited to step into the roles of FNMI peoples
This spring, over 50 Oilfields students — both indigenous and non-indigenous — participated in an experiential learning project. They wrote, directed, acted and filmed four short films, #TRC4Reelz, based on the theme “Reconciliation Through the Eyes of our Youth”. The purpose of the project was to explore the true story of reconciliation; the films were the bonus. Barriers were worked through; understanding, empathy and mutual respect were created; and the landscape of Oilfields has positively changed.
On June 2nd, 22 Oilfields film students were invited to attend REDx Talks: Truth, Reconciliation and the Future (indigenous version of Ted Talks*) at the University of Calgary. Mentorship and creating youth mentors is key to the success of all our youth. They are the future to breaking the cycles of colonization and the tragic legacy left behind from residential schools.
The Circle of Courage (see the Solution Tree video for an explanation) is the basis of our work in FSD: the spirit of generosity, the spirit of belonging, the spirit of mastery, the spirit of independence. We invite all to join us in embracing these teachings and partaking in the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action.
Hiy Hiy (Thank You)
* TED is a nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks (18 minutes or less). TED began in 1984 as a conference where Technology, Entertainment and Design converged, and today covers almost all topics — from science to business to global issues — in more than 100 languages. Meanwhile, independently run TEDx events help share ideas in communities around the world.