In the early days of the quarantine, Emilee Gilpin wrote an article for Canada’s National Observer that sparked the idea for an online Indigenous speaker series.
She had interviewed Indigenous leaders from different parts of the world who had gathered in New York City for a conference on climate change. There seemed to be a general consensus, supported by scientific research, that the pandemic is a direct result of the imbalances in nature caused by human activity on the planet. A common message was emphasized, that solutions for finding a cure, and for living in balance with the environment can be found in the knowledge that is carried by Indigenous communities and in the biodiversity of their territories (which are currently under threat from the same human practices that led to the pandemic).
Our Indigenous Student Group and Equity Committee at SCAS got together online and planned a speaker series to connect our school community with Indigenous knowledge keepers, as a critical response to the situation we found ourselves in. We invited a group of respected Elders, storytellers, and leaders from the Toronto Indigenous community and beyond to share their thoughts on what they thought were the most important things educators should be focusing on right now. We asked for knowledge that could help facilitate a shift in thinking and maybe transform education, so that we wouldn’t go back to the same old ways that got us into the mess we are in with this pandemic.
We were thrilled when every person we invited responded with enthusiasm, agreeing to participate in this project. We started with 4 guests, then mid-way through the series, our forward-thinking Principal offered to pay for 2 additional talks. Neil Dyal you rock! I love how the students presented, and also, how my colleagues really put their hearts into their land acknowledgments. Migwetch to Christopher Desloges for his excellent contribution, and to everyone for participating, and listening to these incredible speakers. I hope you feel inspired!