Maples Met School Indigenous Education Resources
“Our greatest freedom is the freedom to choose our attitude.”
― Viktor E. Frankl
Since the opening of our school 14 months ago, we have been on a journey as community towards not only reconciliation, but decolonization. In our school plan, we have specifically identified our need to flip how education has been designed in this country for the past 150 years and allow space for our indigenous learners and their families to claim this school as their own.
The Maples Met Logo
The Maples Met School logo features a light, representing education and hope. It also incorporates the four colours of the Medicine Wheel, acknowledging that we are learning on Treaty 1 land and within the traditional territory of the Métis. Finally, we have included blue and green to emphasize our commitment to creating sustainable communities and to our connection with the original 7Oaks Met School.
Our mission is to cultivate a safe and educative environment by which learners engage in critical issues of interest to them so that they can develop the skills and knowledge essential for affecting positive change through meaningful and informed action, or praxis.
One of our priorities reads:
Decolonizing Educational Practices, Relationships, and Spaces
Maples Met staff affirm our commitment to decolonizing our teaching practices and building relationships of solidarity and respect with indigenous learners, families, and communities. As a faculty we recognize that we must take responsibility for positioning ourselves as active and integral participants in a decolonization process that respects indigenous nationhood, renewed cultural kinships, and the development of educational relationships that respect the immense knowledge of indigenous peoples and our presence on indigenous territories.
Decolonization is as much a process as a goal. It requires a profound re-centering of indigenous worldviews in our practices as educators. It requires the non-indigenous educators among us to approach Elders and other knowledge-holders from indigenous communities with respect and humility. It, furthermore, requires the non-indigenous educators among us to take it upon ourselves to educate ourselves and not sit on the sidelines while indigenous peoples do the heavy lifting for us.
Our first concrete steps along this journey include our school offering the indigenous culture credit, working with Aboriginal Student Leadership at Maples Collegiate, incorporating indigenous perspectives into teaching and projects, reading books by indigenous authors, providing opportunities and spaces for students to practice and observe indigenous ceremonies and cultural traditions, attending professional development with an indigenous focus, and developing school initiated courses that center and celebrate indigenous perspectives.
Given our mission and priorities, here has been our journey thus far:
Orange Shirt Day 2016
In order to properly engage with Orange Shirt Day in October of 2016, our school community began to prime the pump by reading Ted Fontaine's
Broken Circle. This heart wrenching memoir tells the story of Ted’s experience with the Indian Residential School system. As advisories, we came together to gain insight to Ted’s experience so that we could engage with him fully when he visited our school on Orange T-Shirt day. Ted spoke brilliantly about his experience and graciously invited us into his heart and mind.
The Secret Path
Following our experience with Ted Fontaine, we decided to screen The Secret Path at our school. We also invited the Seven Oaks School Division elder, Mary Courchene, to join us in our discussion following the screening and to share her experience with us. Mary spoke of her time in the Indian Residential School system and she connected her experience with that of Chanie Wenjack.
The Blanket Activity
To build on the experiences with Ted and Mary, our next step was to engage with the Blanket Activity as a school community. The 7Oaks KTEP students came in to facilitate this activity with us, as we gained greater insight into the history of colonialism in Canada. Following this powerful educative experience, several of our learners then facilitated the Blanket Activity at neighbouring middle schools.
Grade 10 Water Project
In January, a Grade 10 advisory will undertake a group reading of
Aqueduct (2017), University of Manitoba historian Adele Perry's historical account of the development of Winnipeg's water supply from Shoal Lake 40. Perry's text considers the mechanisms of colonialism that dispossessed the indigenous peoples to serve the predominately white settler population of Greater Winnipeg. As part of the group reading, students will undertake classroom and field experiences with Perry, connecting the decisions of the past with the present.
Identity has been a recurring theme for the Grade 11 Metsters. At the beginning of the year, students created and shared their identity shields. The shields are a reflection of personal strengths and challenges within the Four Directions of the Medicine Wheel (physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual).
Keeper n Me
Our Grade 11 Metsters have been reading Richard Wagamese’s book
Keeper n Me. Wagamese in this novel describes the effects of colonization, specifically looking at the impact of the Indian Residential School System. Metsers have read the book as a group and have engaged in powerful conversations about the future of Canada and what decolonization looks like.
As part of our continued commitment to learning the six historical thinking skills, Grade 11 students studied the classic Canadian film
Black Robe. This story certainly brings into context the notion of ethical judgement, as it tells the story of the interaction between Jesuits and indigenous people in the 17th century.
Orange Shirt Day 2017
To build upon our experience from last year with elder Mary, this year for Orange Shirt Day we invited Mary’s granddaughter Dawn Isaac to speak to us about intergenerational trauma. Dawn spoke about her mom and grandmother’s experience while looking to the future in terms of the experience of her sons.
As part of our commitment to decolonization, we are facilitating opportunities for our learners to connect with people and activities embedded in indigenous teachings. As such, we organize Pick Me Ups, Wednesday afternoon activities, to open up the minds and of our learners. Thanks to Travis and the Teenage Bears for dropping by recently and inviting our Metsters to participate in the drum group.
Teenage Bears from Matt Henderson on Vimeo.
The Grade 11 classes are currently reading Chester Brown’s, Louis Riel: Comic-strip Biography to gain a different perspective on the history of how our province of Manitoba was shaped. Over the next month the group will be learning about the culture and traditions that formed the Métis identity then, and how past events are reflected today.
Internships, Internships, Internships!
Neechi Niche, Emma
Emma helps out at Neechi Niche helping with art displays and art curation. Her passion for art comes alive and she is able to learn critical curation and people skills from her mentors.
Wahbung Abinoonjiiag, Drayton
Drayton is Sara’s advisory worked two internships last year. One was with J&J Penner Construction, where Drayton explored how we use traditional resources and land in Winnipeg, for better or for worse. His mentor, Chris Penner, has two sons who are Ojibway, helped Drayton explore how settlers have exploited the Treaty 1 land.
At night, Drayton would head to Wahbung Abinoonjiiag, a youth centre, and help with programming there. Drayton took his knowledge from Wahbung and has since led many sessions on Indigenous Games for our school and other communities.
Nahanni Fontaine, Drayton Myran
This year, Drayton is further pursuing his desire to become an Indigenous rights lawyer. He has started his internship with MLA Nahanni Fontaine.
Naveen interned with WASAC (Winnipeg Aboriginal Sport Achievement Centre) and was mentored by Trevor LaForte. Naveen presented to various schools about WASAC and encouraged youth to participate in the summer program. In the summer, Naveen was part of the Turtle Clan as a leader and helped with the programming.
One of our new Metsters, Ally, has started her Met career at Cree-Ations Gallery and Artist Studio. Ally’s incredible passion for art and her tremendous artistic skills have come alive!
Cultural Credit Program
Several Met learners are part of the Seven Oaks School Division cultural credit program. Learners frequently learn to leave and experience teachings and educative experiences related to indigenous culture. So far this year, learners have experienced teachings from Elder Dan at Wawiyia'kiti'gahn (7 Oaks Wayfinders circle garden), traditional Aboriginal games, setting up a tipi, a sweat and a visit to the Petroforms in the Whiteshell. Future activities for this year include visiting the Migizii Agamik and the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation at the University of Manitoba, ice fishing, Sun Dance teachings, treaty celebrations, and volunteering at the Divisional Pow Wow.