Last week a couple of children that I care for invited me to their school’s Sharing Assembly. They were very eager to show me a dance and skit that they’ve been practicing with their classmates for quite some time, so I agreed to come. Little did I know that the theme of the assembly was going to be about honouring First Nations people!
I was overjoyed as I sat at the back of the gym watching “my” children and their grade 5 classmates deliver their performances. One group enacted a Mi’kmaq folktale called The Invisible One, another danced to the song Bread and Cheese by A Tribe Called Red, and another class told the story behind how the dream-catcher came to be while displaying their own colourful dream-catchers they made. What made this moment so enjoyable for me was the enthusiasm I saw in those grade 5 children about educating their school and parents about First Nations people. Canada’s Indigenous people on a whole have been denied within the education system and it’s great to see positive changes unfold!
The Peel District School Board has come a long way (and I hope all of Canada is too) when it comes to acknowledging First Nations people. When I was in elementary school (grades 1-5) I had no knowledge of these nations. Not once did any of my teachers mention them in their history or geography lessons. In middle school my grade 6 teacher taught us about Inuit people and then we had to do a project on them. However the sad part is at that time I was under the impression that these people did not exist anymore. The way these lessons were taught was as if Inuit people were of the past…like the pioneers or vikings. Reflecting back on my education experience from grade 1 to 12 it really confuses and even saddens me how powerful (in a negative way) systemic racism really is! So powerful that it can create an illusion or belief that a whole nation/race does not exist even when they do! Scary.
If you went through the Canadian school system what was your experience like regarding First Nations or Inuit or Metis people? What are your thoughts? Should Canadians care?
Thank you for reading,