SUDBURY – Implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation: A Commitment to Action plan in Rainbow schools is moving forward in a good way with guidance from elders. Rainbow District School Board (RDSB)’s director of education and Indigenous education team have been gathering with the elders since last fall.
“In the action plan, there was a commitment to establish a committee of elders to advise us on the work we are doing in Indigenous education,” said RDSB director of education Norm Blaseg. “Receiving guidance from the elders will ensure the implementation proceeds in accordance with Anishinabek values and principles.”
Mr. Blaseg thanked elders Jim Eshkawkogan, Martina Osawamick, Art Petahtegoose, Leland Bell and Hilda Nadjiwon for sharing their knowledge and wisdom for the benefit of all students in Rainbow schools.
“Elders are the foundation of community knowledge,” said Kathy Dokis, principal of Indigenous education. “We rely on them to ensure that our work is being done in an authentic and meaningful way and that it aligns with student and community needs.”
She added, “elders share their stories with us to ensure we carry their wisdom forward and implement the goals and strengths in the action plan in a good way.”
There have been two gatherings with elders in Sudbury since the start of the school year. Gatherings with elders are also being co-ordinated on Manitoulin Island.
“We are reaching out to fluent speaking elders and knowledge holders to come together in March in Atikameksheng Anishnawbek and M’Chigeeng First Nation to help guide our language strategy as outlined in the action plan,” said Ms. Dokis. “These meetings will be the first of many that will help establish an Anishinaabemowin strategy for Rainbow District School Board.”
In April 2017, RDSB passed a motion acknowledging the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and committing to key recommendations as they relate to education. Under the guidance of the First Nations Advisory Committee and through broad community consultations led by Nbisiing Consulting, the Truth and Reconciliation: Commitment to Action plan was developed. The plan has four priority areas: Indigenous knowledge, Anishinaabemowin language, Indigenous culture, and race relations and healing.