A Year in Review: Indigenous Rights in Education

Faculty of Education
Indigenous
National Day for Truth and Reconciliation
Orange Shirt Day posters in front of Tabaret Hall
In September 2021, our Faculty launched its Year of Action - Indigenous Rights in Education: Enacting our Responsibilities, which was guided by the principles of ethical engagement, reciprocity, and respect.

We envisioned this work as the continuation of ongoing initiatives, and the beginning of a long-term, Faculty-level, endeavour that aligns with the University’s Indigenous Action Plan.  As we approach September 30 and the commemoration of both Orange Shirt Day and the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, we are mindful that the enactment of our responsibilities is an open-ended, ongoing, and evolving relational process.

Reflecting on the past year, we affirm our commitment to learning and unlearning as we enact, individually and collectively, our responsibilities toward truth and reconciliation by co-creating and sustaining relations. Reading through the list below reveals a shared dedication and commitment to Indigenous rights in education—in our Faculty, in our lives, and across our communities.

So, what did we do? 

  • Our Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) committee drafted a statement for the International Decade of Indigenous LanguagesIn recognition of this UNESCO declaration, the dean’s office organized a professional development program for staff, professors, and executive members to learn Anishinabemowin
  • We created three new Indigenous-focused courses: Decolonization and Anticolonialism in Education; Mamatowisin (Mindfulness) in Scholarly Research; Antiracismes et éducation. We continue to review our course descriptions and programs to reflect Indigenous perspectives, relations, and accurate histories.  
  • We supported professors in their efforts to respectfully and authentically incorporate First Nations, Inuit, and Métis perspectives and content in their teaching. To this end, we hosted numerous conferences, talks, and workshops, including Indigenous Pedagogy - Symposium for Students in Education; Bodies, Identities and Intersection; and Indigenous 101: an Indigenous Pedagogy
  • We co-sponsored the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council-funded conference series: Building Connections: Mobilizing Indigenous Histories for Social Change, which spotlighted the efforts of Indigenous communities to collect, preserve, control, and disseminate their oral and written histories. These events also identified best practices for incorporating these histories into the history education programs of both Indigenous and settler K-12 schools and post-secondary institutions — without recolonizing Indigenous peoples and their meanings. 
  • We collaborated with Francophone and Indigenous communities, including La Cité, the First Nations, Métis and Inuit Association of Ontario (FNMIEAO), Le Centre Franco, Le conseil des écoles publiques de l’est de l’Ontario (CEPEO), and les Chantiers d’actions et de recherche pour des Ffrancophonies inclusives (CARFfI), on a range of initiatives connected to the Year of Action objectives. 
  • In our Teacher Education program, we offered numerous learning opportunities for our candidates, including land-based learning with Fred McGregor, Reconciling History Walks with the Caring Society, as well as learning sessions with Elder Albert Dumont, Professor Cindy Blackstock, Elders and residential school survivors Irene Barbeau and Irene Lindsay, and youth activist Krystin Dumont.  
  • We partnered with Project of Heart Ontario in facilitating a learning day for students, staff, and professors on how to teach the Project in their own classrooms and communities.  
  • We committed to a three-year partnership with Beechwood National Cemetery, which includes the participation of teacher candidates in Reconciliation Tours and public Project of Heart Ontario events on the grounds. 
  • We held a fundraising campaign on Giving Tuesday for theFaculty of Education Indigenous Solidarity Scholarship for Indigenous students, which provides opportunities to earn degrees through educational experiences that respect their ancestral values to Indigenous candidates enrolled in the Teacher Education program. 
  • As a culminating gathering in September, 2022, we honoured residential school survivors from Kitigan Zibi, during an in-person event in our Faculty of Education Learning Resource Centre.  

The numerous initiatives and accomplishments of this Year of Action were made possible through the steadfast efforts of partner organizations, students, staff, professors and our larger Faculty of Education community. While our reflection answers the question of "what we did do?" over the past twelve months, it is both a point of departure and a continuation of enacting our responsibilities and commitments of working towards restorative relations.

Indigenous affirmation

We pay respect to the Algonquin people, who are the traditional guardians of this land. We acknowledge their longstanding relationship with this territory, which remains unceded.

 

We pay respect to all Indigenous people in this region, from all nations across Canada, who call Ottawa home.

 

We acknowledge the traditional knowledge keepers, both young and old. And we honour their courageous leaders: past, present, and future.

Learn more.