Dear professors, teacher candidates, and support staff,

As some of you might well know September 30th is Orange Shirt Day. Schools, government, and community organizations  across the country will be  commemorating and challenging the ongoing intergenerational impacts of the Indian Residential Schooling system. In 2015, after the release of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission final report, teacher education programs and public schooling systems were called upon to address the 94 Calls to Action.

Having said this, First Nations, Métis, and Inuit communities have been calling on us to do better in terms of living up to our treaty obligations long before 2015. And here in the Ottawa region, we have yet to reach a treaty agreement with the Algonquin nation. As such, we continue to teach, work, and live on the unceded and unsurrendered territories of the Algonquin Anishnaabeg people.

In terms of teacher education, and as future teachers, the TRC Commission calls upon us to address the following general and specific actions:

  • Developing and implementing Kindergarten to Grade Twelve curriculum and learning resources on Aboriginal peoples in Canadian history, and the history and legacy of residential schools (see TRC Ontario Curriculum Guides Grade 6, 8, and 10);
  • Sharing information and best practices on teaching curriculum related to residential schools and Aboriginal history;
  • Building student capacity for intercultural understanding, empathy, and mutual respect; and
  • Identifying teacher-training needs relating to the above.

Several of you will have the opportunity to address some of the 94 Calls to Action as future Indigenous and non-Indigenous teachers in courses such as, but not limited to PED 3102 (Schooling and Society); PED 3138 (First Nations, Inuit and Métis Education: Historical Experiences and Contemporary Perspectives); and within several other courses (PED 3141, 3142, 4141, and 4142 as examples) in our Teacher Education Program. Indeed, how are you addressing the 94 Calls to Action and challenging the historical and ongoing impacts of settler colonialism in your curriculum-as-planned, -implemented, and -lived. How have each of us been colonized by a settler colonial curriculum? Why is it that we have learned to remember and forget certain historical narratives? And how does the school curriculum work to shape our collective historical consciousness in such remembering and forgetting?

We invite you to join us in a small gesture of solidarity toward remembering those who lost their lives and those who survived the state sponsored violence that took place inside and outside the walls of the Indian Residential Schooling system on September 30th. We will be taking a photo at the gymnasium at Lees Campus at 8:30am. Please wear an orange T-Shirt, or patch, in support on that day. Additionally, also at Lees Campus gymnasium, Teacher Candidates in PED 3102 – Schooling and Society will participate in the Blanket Exercise, which will be facilitated by Fred McGregor, who is a traditional Algonquin knowledge keeper from Kitigan Zibi. For those who would like to do more over the course of their studies and careers, please consult the following sites (Orange Shirt DayCaring Society CampaignsProject of Heart). 

Prior to next Monday, I encourage you to view the following interview with Cindy Blackstock below. What might a praxis of “truth” and “reconciliation” look like in your future curriculum designs?

Thank you for taking the time to consider this pedagogical invitation. Visiting the links provided within this invitation, for some of you, will be one small, small, step as future educators toward re-imagining our past, present, and future relations as Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadian citizens.

Nicholas Ng-A-Fook

Nicholas Ng-A-Fook

Dr. Ng-A-Fook is a Professor of Curriculum Studies and Director of Indigenous Teacher Education at the University of Ottawa. He is also the Co-Director of RSEKN and the Past-President of the Canadian Society for the Study of Education (CSSE), the largest professional educational research association in Canada.