Learning Through Aboriginal Perspectives At
École Constable Edward Finney School
The Aboriginal Resources Review Committee (ARRC):
Our committee has worked together to create resource displays for staff use. Topics include:
- residential schools
- 7 teachings
- integrating Indigenous perspectives with science, social studies and art
The Aboriginal Resources Review Committee has spent considerable time finding quality books that are free of stereotypes and biases and where students can see themselves and others in a positive light.
This map of Manitoba displays traditional First Nation Community Names. It is displayed on the window of our library in the center of our school. Children and families have been invited to find their home communities on this map.
Highlights of Room 3’s ongoing learning through Aboriginal Perspectives:
Ms. Lamoureux’s Grade 4&5 class
- learning about residential schools
- visit from Elder Mary
- reading Treaty Tales series and using the Treaty education kit materials
- representing all heritage languages in class
Treaty Acknowledgements During Morning Announcements
As a school we have been exploring the meaning of “We Are All Treaty People.” Each morning, students have the opportunity to take on a leadership role. Our morning announcements over the intercom each morning start our day and set the tone for what we value as a school community. This year we have engaged in a new ritual of making a treaty acknowledgement in conjunction with the singing of O Canada that sounds like this:
As we stand to sing O Canada, we remember that our beautiful country, Canada, is made possible due to the signing of treaties with First Nations Peoples. We are all treaty people. Please rise for O Canada. Debout pour O Canada s’il vous plait.
We have also been learning how to sing O Canada in Ojibway.
Indigenous Perspectives Through the Arts
The arts act as a powerful tool for incorporating indigenous perspectives into everyday learning experiences. At Constable Finney School, we are beginning an artists’ workshop series examining the artwork of traditional and contemporary Aboriginal artists.
We begin our focus on contemporary Inuit and Woodland art, and we will examine the way Aboriginal artists, including Benjamin Chee Chee, Norval Morrisseau, and Simon Tookoome, use visual art to transmit information about cultural traditions, family history, and scientific knowledge.
These after-school workshops will provide educators with specific resources and knowledge about the ways children can cultivate scientific knowledge about Canada’s landscape by closely examining Aboriginal art.
Our Pow Wow club is underway for the new year! Our instructors, are Wendyll and Allison, a husband and wife team of Pow Wow Dancers! During Pow Wow they divide the group into two, with Allison leading the female dance steps and Wendyll leading the male steps. Our Pow Wow coordinator Rose Marsden introduced the group to the meaning of Pow Wow and smudging. Our Pow Wow club meets every second week and has about 30 members from Grades 1-5!
Professional Development Day: We Are All Treaty People
This year we have chosen to dig deeper into how we can meaningfully teach with Aboriginal perspectives. This is one of the goals in our school plan for the school year and is a divisional priority. Our first professional development day of the school year took place at the Manitoba Museum. In partnership with the Treaty Relations Commission of Manitoba, the Museum program helped us to explore the history of the treaty relationship in Manitoba and our responsibility to the treaty agreements. The Manitoba Museum features a rich display of treaty history including artifacts such as some of the original treaty medals as seen in the photograph below.
Treaty Medals display at The Manitoba Museum
Our afternoon was facilitated by University of Winnipeg professor, Marc Kuly. Kuly helped us to consider our role as educators in respecting the treaty agreements and helping children to see their role as “protectors of the partnership that created Canada” (Kevin Lamoureux, 2015, Seven Oaks Scholar in Residence).
The spirit and intent of treaties are to build relationships
of mutual respect that support all people to succeed.
Kuly reminded us of the importance of reflecting on the purpose of education, taking us back to the mandate of Manitoba Education and Training which states:
Our mandate is to ensure that all Manitoba’s children and youth
have access to an array of educational opportunities such that every
learner experiences success through relevant, engaging and high
quality education that prepares them for lifelong learning and citizenship in a democratic, socially just and sustainable society. http://www.edu.gov.mb.ca/edu/mandate.html
Kuly offers, “Understanding where we come from is an act of citizenship.” This task of understanding where we come from has inspired much of our learning this school year.
A Grade 1 Exploration of the Seven Teachings – Mme. Grenier’s Class
We have been exploring the seven teachings and have been playing with animals from Turtle Island. The goal is that students can have a sense of belonging for these animals. In the future months we will be introducing Non-American animals such as lions, elephants, etc... These animals will be arriving via ship as newcomers onto Turtle Island. We will then discuss what the animals can do to welcome the new animals and how are we going to share the resources on Turtle Island. What kinds of promises/treaties should the animals make to each other to live together in a peaceful way?
We are currently working on getting to know our animals, their importance, and how they survive in winter. We are building a winter forest.
Setting up the scene for our future conversations.
An Exploration of Family Through the Medicine Wheel
Mr. Dave’s Kindergarten Class
One of the first things people notice on their way into our French Immersion Kindergarten classroom are the family pictures that welcome them to our space. Often the second thing they notice is the medicine wheel that literally, and figuratively, takes centre stage in our room. Early in the year we connected these two - our families and the medicine wheel - to provide context for our place within our families. The children had been excitedly sharing during our morning meeting about the brothers, sisters, moms, dads, grandmas, and grandpas that made up their families. Amidst all the stories it was difficult to see how everyone fit into their families, so we used the medicine wheel in a variety of ways to unpack our idea of family.
First we grouped our family members into the four colour groups. Several of the students remembered that we pointed the yellow East where the sun comes up, and so decided that that was a great place for all the family members who are first born: babies.
Following the wheel clockwise we connected children with red, adults with black, and elders with white. As we talked about how we aged as we passed from one colour to the next, a very important question came up: "Why are the elders next to the babies?" This was beautifully answered by one of the students who said "Well my grandpa looks after my baby brother sometimes." Several of the students could also recall spending time with a grandparent, and how elders in their family help in this way.
In the end, the medicine wheel allowed us to construct a more meaningful understanding of our families by providing the space to physically situate ourselves within our families as well as the framework for exploring some of the ways we are connected.
Connecting Indigenous Perspectives and Sustainability
Mme. Harvey’s Grade 3 Class
Over the past few months, room 9 has been preparing and harvesting edible plants in the classroom without soil. The students understand that there are ways to grow plants in a sustainable way, without excessive use of fertilizer, soil, or water. These methods incorporate the perspectives of First Nations relationship with the planet, including the sacred connection of water and life. By respecting these philosophies, this planting method has lessened the amount of water used to grow certain vegetables by 90%, as compared to traditional methods.
Room 9 hopes that by demonstrating these philosophies and methods, others in the community will be able to implement the same teachings when creating their gardens.
The students have been observing the growth of these plants, which include daikon radish, mustard, peas, lettuce, and basil.
We are looking forward to…
Katherena Vermette, author of The Seven Teachings Stories Series will be joining us to work alongside teachers and students to share her inspiration and writing process as well as her teachings.
Our Finney Family Festival will take place on February 18th from 6:30-8:00. This event will celebrate French Canadian culture as we come together as a Finney community to participate in festivities! Our Festival celebration will be an opportunity to learn about the first partnerships between Voyageurs and First Nations peoples.