Since the news of the 215 children found at the Residential School in British Columbia, we’ve been walking around in a daze and can’t get the thoughts out of our heads. As my wife said when we discussed this, “Can you imagine?”. Quite frankly, I can’t.
Growing up, Ipperwash Provincial Park was just the other park near Grand Bend. The Pinery Provincial Park was the place where we mostly went for camping and days at the beach. It wasn’t until years later that I knew that Ipperwash was more than just a park and the history of it.
I had no idea.
We really are products of our family, education, and community. As a youth, my parents had friends and the father was of Indigenous descent. Of course, we were also bombarded by the media. Everyone knew of gentleman George Armstrong and my memories of him opened the doors to thinking about professional sports teams and their nicknames and logos – Cleveland Baseball, Washington Football, Chicago Hockey, Edmonton CFL Football (name change just yesterday), and more. Closer to home was the mascot and logo for the high school that I attended. It’s now gone.
At high school, we studied the required curriculum. Canadian History, most certainly, was covered and we learned and were able to pass the tests and exams based upon the material taught. We learned of the fathers that made Confederation and beyond to build this country. And yet, we knew or studied nothing of the issues with Ipperwash or the Residential School within an hour’s drive of our town.
Like many people, I’ve had to learn of this horrible time on my own. The National Truth and Reconciliation Commission has brought so much to light. Of course, the media covers issues all the time. Personally, I feel it’s a disservice that these reports come with a disclaimer that some people may find it distressing. Of course, it’s distressing – we don’t need it sanitized for our protection. We all need to know and understand. It’s only then that we can come to grips with what happened.
Thankfully, our curriculum seems to be changing and resources and professional learning along with it. An announcement by the OMEA illustrates how their curriculum will evolve as a result.
For teachers like me who grew up and are now learning on our own, the curriculum should be the first point of contact. Your district should be providing appropriate materials to further support your classroom.
Since the weekend, people have been sharing their sympathies and support by changing profile pictures on social media and flags lowered across the country. That has to be only a start; otherwise it’s like so many other “thoughts and wishes” after a tragic event. The Caldwell First Nation addresses the Prime Minister is a letter posted on their website here.
It seems to me that education can go a long way towards a society that is truly understanding and remorceful for what has happened. If your school district isn’t providing the resources, or you’re looking for more, the web resources https://www.fnmieao.com/students/ and https://etfofnmi.ca/ are good places to turn.
Just don’t let students leave your school saying they were never taught.