“Education is the key to reconciliation.” – Justice Murray Sinclair, Chair, Truth and Reconciliation Commission
Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission illuminated a history that has been ignored or glossed over for far too long: the suffering and damage caused to Indigenous children and their families by residential schools, and the ongoing impact and legacy of colonialism.
The challenge before us is to acknowledge these truths and work toward a just and respectful relationship with this land’s Original Peoples. It remains to be seen how well we as a country will meet this challenge, but one thing is clear: educators have a critical role to play. Through the education system, we can ensure that the next generation of Canadians grows up with some understanding of the histories and cultures of First Nations, Métis and Inuit (FNMI) peoples, and that FNMI students receive an equitable and culturally relevant education.
But how to begin? We know that many teachers feel daunted by their own lack of knowledge and fear of “getting it wrong.” There is great work being done, however, that can inspire and guide us – addressing both the specific needs of Indigenous students and the need to better educate all students.
I’m very excited that this special issue is entirely devoted to Truth and Reconciliation in education. It showcases inspiring models and practical ideas for educators who wish to take steps towards reconciliation in their schools. The articles we received were truly outstanding, and I am very grateful for the generosity and enthusiasm of our contributors.
I’d specifically like to thank two people. Michelle Hogue, our Guest Editor, sits on Education Canada’s Editorial Board and is a Métis scholar teaching at the University of Lethbridge. She was not only an invaluable guide and advisor but also took on nitty-gritty work like moderating our Youth Talking Circle (and please do read what these extraordinary young adults have to say – they blew us away with their openness, wisdom, and determination to contribute to a better world). I also want to thank Mi’kmaw Elder Albert Marshall, who set us on the right path with his introduction to this issue on.
Elder Albert says we are on “an ongoing journey of co-learning” from and with each other. Educators don’t need to know it all. We simply need to be ready to seek out the knowledge of those who do know, and to learn alongside our students.
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Photo: Dave Donald
First published in Education Canada, June 2018