Wednesday, September 17, 2014
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School board launches First Nations teaching tools

ByTeresa Latchford

Your child will learn more about First Nations history following the launch of a new teaching resource.

The York Region District School Board teamed up with the Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board and First Nations leaders to create the First Nation, Métis and Inuit: Tracing our Historical Footprints educational resource.

The living document, which is expected to be expanded in the coming years, was launched at a celebration in Newmarket featuring a smudge ceremony, songs performed by Georgina Island and Aurora’s Bond Lake Public School students and a drum and hoop dance demonstration by Joseph Osawamick.

“We are at the beginning of a process in the province and continue to work on how to integrate this history in every classroom across the province,” York board school superintendent Steven Reid said at the launch. “Many teachers will say they don’t have the history to do so, but that is what this resource is for.”

There has been a growing desire for more information regarding treaties and local history and to honour First Nations culture and heritage, First Nations curriculum adviser Dawn Sillaby-Smith said.

The project began with a vision of 10 resource cards that included 10 things people always wanted to know about First Nations people, but were afraid to ask.

The finished product has 86 cards featuring quotes, summaries, key facts, thought-provoking discussion questions and instructional strategies for each topic, many of which are treaties.

The cards will act as starting points for educators and students and are supported by lists of more resources and digital components with video interviews, pod casts, maps, student handouts and more.

Although the goal is to include First Nations units across all courses, the resource begins by targeting Grade 10 history students.

“We have by no means exhausted the history of our people, but rather this is just the beginning of the journey,” Ms Sillaby-Smith said. “We want to support our First Nation students and bring awareness to the rest.”

The hope is school boards across the province will embrace the new resource and begin to add to it as they are able.

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