Seven Oaks Met School
Truth, Reconciliation, and Decolonization at the Seven Oaks Met School
Here at the Seven Oaks Met School we continue to integrate Indigenous perspectives into our everyday routines. We believe it is important to go beyond doing this as a tokenistic measure, as we see it as one of crucial steps needed by our society for authentic decolonization to occur. Having our new school blessed in a smudging ceremony by elder-in-residence, Mary Courchene, was one of our first steps towards reconciliation. We are in a fortunate position that our students can explore a wide variety of Indigenous perspectives through their independent school-based projects and through their internship experiences. A handful of examples to highlight this include: Ecko’s internship with Lita Fontaine, our Seven Oaks Artist in Resident, exploring Indigenous art; Luana’s school-based project on the life of Indigenous people before colonization and her work with the Sacred Hoop Program, an Indigenous Broadcasting program; Bridget’s internship at the Manitoba Museum where she did tours on the pre-contact history of Indigenous peoples in Canada; Jai and Satinder’s work on residential schools; Hilary’s internship at CreeAtions and her project making moccasins; and Nicholas’ extensive work on using Kapyong Barracks as a Site of Reconciliation.
Perhaps more importantly, we started the year with a focus on Orange Shirt Day to set the tone for things to come. On that day, every student in the school engaged in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Recommendations and was asked to commit to three things they would do as part of their own Personal Reconciliation Action Plan – some of them being individual actions and some advisory or whole school actions. This has become part of our framework as a school moving forward, from smaller every day actions, to larger more impactful ones. As such, some of the things students were able to engage in this year included: reading novels by Indigenous authors for novel studies; learning about missing and murdered Indigenous women and the Canadian Museum of Human Rights; participating sharing circles to address issues at a variety of levels (local, global, etc); going to a sweat lodge; participating in the Mantio Ahbee Festival; being a part of the Seven Oaks School Division Graduation Pow Wow; having a cohort in the Educating for Action series of Human Rights workshops; building community by distributing care packages to those who have been disenfranchised (and learning about the historical reasons why a particular socio-economic group of people are affected in this way); and sending a shipment of food and toys to Pauingassi First Nation as part of our annual Christmas Drive.
On a larger whole-school scale, we had the opportunity, not only to have our entire school participate in the Walk a Mile in Our Moccasins’ Simulation (aka the blanket activity), but to have our Met School families be a part of this important dialogue about the impact of colonization on Indigenous Peoples. Incorporating Indigenous perspectives through land-based education is also a focus at our school, and for example, our annual fall outing to Birds Hill Park is where we teach students to live on the land, build shelters, and cook stew and bannock on the fire.
This only touches on the beginning of our journey towards Truth and Reconciliation that we are on as a school. We have plenty of exciting new endeavours planned for next year as we work towards decolonization so keep your eyes open for what is to come. Here is a small ‘sneak peak’ – as part of her senior-thesis project next year, one of our students is working on a mural for our outdoor classroom that will include the ‘United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples’, an acknowledgment that we are on Treaty One Territory, and a memorial to the victims of Residential Schools.