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Education for reconciliation requires us to ‘know where we are’

On a sunny morning in amiskwaciwâskahikan (Edmonton) final October, greater than 100 college college students, the 2 of us and different college instructors gathered close to the banks of kisiskâciwan-sîpî (North Saskatchewan River) within the Riverdale neighbourhood.

Becoming a member of our group have been Cree Elder Phillip Campiou, a cultural information keeper, and members of the Riverdale Group League Fact and Reconciliation Committee.

The gathering was an occasion known as “Realizing The place You Are.” We conceived and deliberate this experiential studying exercise as instructors of foundational programs within the bachelor of schooling program at Concordia College of Edmonton.

We wished to take our college students out of the classroom to floor their studying about Indigenous Peoples and histories in an understanding of the significance of place, and to place college students able the place they might study the place they dwell, research and work.

Significance of place

We selected this exercise at this place due to the layered historical past of the bridge website, which has significance as a gathering place amongst First Nations, Metis and settler folks.

Riverdale is located on Metis river heaps 18 and 20 in what’s now central Edmonton. A part of the Metis homeland, Edmonton is on the centre of Treaty 6 territory.

We additionally wished to foster college students’ habits of questioning about understanding the place they’re as a place to begin for his or her studying. We sought to domesticate and nurture habits of thoughts and physique to tell how college students enter and method their future lecture rooms.

Importantly, we hoped this distinctive exercise would instil a way of confidence with – and dedication to – schooling for reconciliation.

Training for reconciliation in Alberta colleges

We and different educators have been responding to 4 of the 94 Calls to Motion launched by the Fact and Reconciliation Fee of Canada in 2015.

The intent of schooling for reconciliation is to incorporate alternatives for college students in kindergarten to Grade 12 to be taught concerning the histories, experiences, knowledges and contributions of Indigenous Peoples to Canada.

Name to Motion No. 62 calls for presidency funding to allow post-secondary establishments “to coach lecturers on the best way to combine Indigenous information and educating strategies into lecture rooms.” Alberta signalled its dedication to this partly by creating and implementing a brand new Educating High quality Normal, which outlines six competencies for lecturers.

The competencies are interconnected units of information, expertise and attitudes. They supply steering to practising or aspiring lecturers, in addition to those that supervise and consider them. One in all six competencies is fully devoted to the event and utility of “foundational information about First Nations, Metis and Inuit for the advantage of all college students.”

Decolonial approaches to schooling

For us, understanding the place you’re is each an expression of our willingness to fulfil a mandate outlined by the Educating High quality Normal and of our dedication to a decolonial method to instructor schooling.

We take the competencies and related indicators as solely a place to begin, and as minimal descriptors of high quality educating in a area that’s sometimes cautious in its method to vary.

We attempt to de-centre the bodily college as the mandatory website of studying, and to take an Indigenous educating and studying method that could be a significant step towards decolonized instructor schooling.

The place do you stand?

As a decolonial method to schooling for reconciliation, “understanding the place you’re” has been impressed by completely different strategies of investigation, every crucially decided by native historical past, information, circumstances and functions.

One in all these strategies for inspecting native historical past begins with the metaphor of digging the place you stand, named and impressed by the work of Swedish creator Sven Lindqvist.

One other that has guided us is Cree scholar Dwayne Donald’s adaptation of a phenomenon often called “pentimento.” Pentimento refers back to the re-emergence of earlier layers or layers of paint on a canvas, which Donald explores in his 2004 article, “Edmonton Pentimento: Re-Studying Historical past within the Case of the Papaschase Cree.”

Impressed by the work of historian Patricia Seed, Donald proposes “‘pentimento re-reading’ as a strategy to get well tales and recollections which were ‘painted over.'”

This includes “the acknowledgement that every layer mixes with the opposite and renders irreversible influences on our perceptions of it.” The tendency to separate the tales of Indigenous and settler Canadians is one symptom of the legacies of colonialism and paternalism which have characterised Canadian society.

Steady presence of the previous

We wished to have interaction with a Cree precept of searching for information and understanding in our educating.

Nêhiyaw (Cree) and Saulteaux scholar Margaret Kovach writes that “we all know what we all know from the place we stand” in her dialogue of Indigenous analysis methodology.

This concept speaks to a notion of information that emerges from the locations and instances we discover ourselves. To us, it implies that instructor schooling knowledgeable by Indigenous approaches to educating and studying should be pursued in a method that’s conscious of the continued presence and relevance of the previous.

Individuals who have made commitments

On the fall 2022 occasion, college students cycled by three actions.

They visited the tipi (lodge) erected each summer time on a outstanding hilltop in a group park by Elder Phillip Campiou, and discovered from him.

College students additionally walked to the close by Tawatinâ Bridge to view a public artwork set up by Metis artist David Garneau. The set up consists of 400 particular person items of artwork meant as “an homage to the historical past, nature, and First Nations and Metis presence within the area.” We requested college students to decide on an artwork piece as a place to begin for additional studying.

Lastly, college students visited with members of the Riverdale Fact and Reconciliation Committee, who spoke of the non-public and collective commitments they’ve made in assist of reality and reconciliation.

A mannequin for studying

This occasion is a mannequin we hope college students carry with them of their future careers, irrespective of the place they dwell and work.

We have been inspired by how engaged the scholars have been on the day of the exercise, in addition to by proof of studying revealed in work submitted later within the time period. Suggestions we obtained tells us college students loved and appreciated the exercise.

We’re optimistic that such actions matter, although we all know translating particular insights, experiences and understanding into deep studying requires ongoing commitments.

The layered nature of locations – their “pentimento” high quality – applies in every single place. After we perceive this, prospects unfold.

By means of this method, these future lecturers – certainly, all lecturers – can come to grasp the significance of recognizing the continual presence and ongoing relevance of the previous in tales they inform about folks and locations.

Authors: Lorin Yochim – Adjunct Assistant Professor, College of Training, College of Alberta | Christine Martineau – Assistant Professor, College of Training, Concordia College of Edmonton The Conversation

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