Teacher PD Day: Exploring the Land Acknowledgement

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Scarborough Centre for Alternative Studies, Teacher PD Day October 5, 2018

The day began with a greeting in Anishinaabemowin, one of the traditional languages of the land our school is situated on.  Two full tables of hearts[1] were waiting to be claimed by sixty educators.  The idea served two functions because we have many new staff members and we don’t know each others’ names.   It prepared educators for this learning journey while building community.

In the first week of school I had asked our new Principal if I could have time to talk with staff about the land acknowledgement and how to begin to meaningfully explore it and unpack its implications in our classes.  It was a great relief to receive a positive response and to know that I would be supported in sharing this important subject with my colleagues.   In an hour long presentation, teachers learned about The Niagara Treaty agreements and the following clips were featured:

Melanie Cervantes  – following protocol when you’re on someone else’s territory.

Harlan Pruden  – centering Two-Spirit voices to address Global Competencies. Drawing knowledge from the traditional territories that we occupy to build equity models that will benefit all students.

Pam PalmaterChild Welfare Unfair for First Nations – connected to all five criteria of genocide that Canada continues to perpetrate.  How do we break our complicity with this?

Kanahus Manuel – Tiny House Warriors’ resistance to Trudeau’s pipeline with forward thinking technology.

Teachers were asked if they would want to go to the Art Gallery of Ontario and challenge themselves to make one lesson that connects with the Anthropocene exhibit and the McLean Centre show, and that addresses the Niagara Treaty agreements.   There seemed to be enough interest to plan this full day trip for our next PD day.

The presentation ended with a giveaway — a t-shirt purchased online from the Onaman collective — for the first person who could answer the following question:  How is Trudeau violating the Niagara Treaty when he makes attempts to run a pipeline through Secwepemc territory?

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[1] Art students designed hearts the day before and we ran construction paper through the photocopier, a technical tip from Olivia Gude.