Reconciliation through Education
Chief Justice Murray Sinclair, Commissioner and Chairman of the Truth & Reconciliation Commission, made a stirring appeal to educators last week on behalf of Aboriginal students who continue to struggle in public schools. He asked for curriculum changes to ensure that every student is taught about the history of Aboriginal people in Canada and the legacy of residential schools. That’s not a new request but his presentation made it poignant….. he not only called for change but asked attendees for a personal commitment that they will set timelines for action and not rest until that goal is accomplished. (Source: Vancouver Sun).
I have taken this as a call to action and so have prepared a presentation for schools, social organizations and companies interested in hearing from an historian/storyteller who has worked within the urban Aboriginal community for over a decade.
The presentation begins with the story of how in my second year of university, my American History professor asked the students if they could name some of the people that were responsible for the American Constitution. After the students listed the usual suspects he said the name, Deganaweda and then proceeded to tell the story of the founder of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Confederacy – one of the world’s oldest democracies – predating the Magna Carta.
Weaving between thought poems from ‘A is for Aboriginal’ the author explores other interesting but often not well know facets of Aboriginal art, history and culture:
- The origin of the term redskin coming from red ochre used by the Beothuk and other Nations in sacred ceremonies to colour their skin.
- How the Lewis & Clark expedition would not have succeeded without the help of a Native woman (Sacagawea) and a Mètis man (G. Drouillard).
- The trade system that led to the creation of a sign language that could be understood from Florida to the Pacific Northwest. How long did that take to develop?
- The once outlawed potlatch economy that may offer solutions to some our present day economic and environmental challenges
- What the loss of language means to a people – this is punctuated by the fact that my father never taught me his birth language (Gaelic) and what that really means to an individual, a family and a people.
- How laws and cultural values were ‘written’ and expressed through Aboriginal art.
- The breadth and scope of Aboriginal culture – the vast number of peoples, Nations, languages, cultures and experience.
- Yana and Ishi died together – the loss of a people.
- The Residential School system
The presentation is suitable for children in middle school and up and for adults – presentation is modified for different age groups.
If you are interested in having a presentation contact the author at email@example.com or call 778.835.5801. Thank you.