First Nations, Métis and Inuit Education

Supporting education for First Nation, Métis and Inuit Students

 

System Coordination and Community Consultation

York Region District School Board continues to have two committees that provide system coordination and community consultation regarding the First Nations, Métis and Inuit Education Policy Framework - the First Nations Liaison Committee and the Indigenous Education Advisory Council.

 

First Nation Liaison Committee

The First Nation Liaison Committee meets twice annually to review and update the Tuition Education Services Agreement between YRDSB and The Chippewas of Georgina Island First Nation. The next meeting in early December and will look at the current Education Services Agreement and the use of data to support Georgina Island Students. Language revitalization continues to be a focus of work in partnership with the committee. A language committee was convened last year and was able to work out issues around scheduling. For the first time Ojibwe language courses started in the Sutton area with the beginning of school. All administrators and language staff are to be congratulated with making this process work.

 

Indigenous Education Advisory Council

The Indigenous Education Advisory Council (IEAC) membership includes:

  • system leaders

  • trustees

  • school principals

  • curriculum advisors

  • the First Nations, Métis and Inuit team

  • representatives of the First Nation community of Georgina Island

  • parents and students​ from the board

The Indigenous Education Advisory Council (IEAC) is a council or committee mandated by the Ministry of Education and is part of a formalized process to support the local implementation of the First Nation Métis and Inuit framework. It is to guide the school board and schools in building stronger relationships with their communities, sharing information, identifying promising practices, and enhancing collaborative work to support First Nation, Métis, and Inuit student achievement and well-being.

This year the council is working with Indigenous communities to further develop our IEAC and its processes to better align with Indigenous practices and protocols, and to ensure it is representative of student, parent and community voices as well as following practices of government in line with Indigenous ways of knowing.

 

Voluntary Indigenous Self-Identification Process

The number of students who have self-identified with Indigenous ancestry has increased since September 2019 to over 500 students. Our strategies to encourage voluntary self-identification of students include:

  • ​Creating a supportive community of learning for educators, staff, students, parents and community partners to build competency around integrating Indigenous Ways of Knowing and worldview in a good way;
  • Increasing awareness and understanding among school administrators and support staff of the self-identification process;
  • Increasing and improving communication to parents, students and the community regarding self-identification, and specifically the benefits to students in self-identifying, by providing a renewed brochure to all students and information in school newsletters that will be released this year;
  • Developing and mobilizing system supports to address the needs of self-identified students;
  • Having a student advisory program to increase cultural awareness among K–12 students through a variety of activities and leadership opportunities; and
  • ​Increasing classroom resources and supports that reflect Indigenous peoples and provide contemporary perspective.

 

Programming and supports for students and staff

The past school year has been hectic, but staff members, community, teachers and students have all risen to the occasion. The First Nations, Métis and Inuit team in partnership with departments, schools and community members were able to offer learning and training across many curriculum areas and grade levels and to maintain traditional teachings for students and families started in previous years. These included:

Indigenous Student Advisors

These staff members are centrally assigned to be able to offer culturally responsive support to Indigenous students across the board. We have an identified need to support Indigenous students in navigating the school system and the supports available to them, as well as offering social, emotional and spiritual support in order to help them be successful.

  • Number of schools supported - 114
  • Number of students supported - 652

Advisors worked with Indigenous peer tutors and self-identified students to provide online tutoring for students. Due to the adoption of an online model, document cameras were purchased to improve instruction.

In preparation for de-streaming of Grade 9 math, advisors called all self-identified students transitioning from Grade 8 to ensure that they understood their course options and the ramifications of course selections. Approximately 10-15 families were contacted.

This year, with the return to face-to-face schooling, advisors are working with schools with high concentrations of Indigenous students to develop Indigenous study centres, similar in model to the very successful study centre in Sutton District High school, to further develop our ability to support students across the board.

 

E-Book Library

We have assembled a virtual library of e-book titles from Indigenous authors. This is available to teachers and classes across the board to support schools in having access to high quality Indigenous content. It will also be used to support English teachers who are beginning to include more Indigenous titles into their courses. Resources can be shared over a number schools with this method through coordination of the Indigenous studies team.

The advent of online learning created an issue with access to quality titles from Indigenous authors. In supporting teachers, we recognized the need to be able to offer a variety of texts in order to make sure that Indigenous authors were included in classes. This library will also be used in hybrid situations throughout this year.

The Board purchased 760 digital eBooks outright and have metered access for another 125 eBooks. Student access to the books is through Overdrive but requires teachers to individually assign books to students in NBE courses. The texts support both educator and student learning through Indigenous texts and provide greater access to books for both educators and students.

 

PD for Ojibwe Language teachers

We connected with Isadore Toulouse, an Ojibwe language instructor with several decades of experience, to develop professional development (PD) in language for Ojibwe language teachers. We also reached out to other nearby boards to partner in the program to develop teacher skills and knowledge in teaching the Ojibwe language. Learning was carried out every Monday from February 1 until June 14 after school hours.

PD programming was provided using an online platform with Toulouse, who is a fluent Ojibwe speaker and former educator familiar with the dialect and communities of the YRDSB area. It not only strengthened teacher language skills and teaching skills, it helped solidify the community of educators who are actively involved in restoring the language in these territories.

 

Subject-Specific Indigenous Education Curriculum Projects

Training has been offered to all teachers with Indigenous studies high school credits last year and this year. It has also been extended to all interested English and Social Science or Art teachers who are considering integrating Indigenous content into their courses. Webinars were offered after school and included direct access to subject specific resources, direct support from FNMI and CIS curriculum consultants, and also learning from Indigenous community members with expertise in areas of: writing, art, history and contemporary issues.

We have seen a doubling of Indigenous studies course across the Board. This has brought us to a point where we are looking at a model for offering Indigenous studies courses at all secondary schools. New and experienced Indigenous studies teachers have requested opportunities to expand their knowledge and to share ideas with staff from across the Board. Programming started last November and has continued via Google Classroom resources and a variety of after school sessions.

Classes offered through an arts credit were supported to create course outlines that helped transition the pedagogies from a traditional AVI course to one that is relevant to the NAC course. Teachers had opportunities to involve guests, contemporary resources and participated in forums for questions and support.

In response to the increasing number of schools offering or planning to offer Understanding Contemporary First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Voices – NBE3U/C, the First Nations, Métis and Inuit Education Team offered a summer learning opportunity to unpack the curriculum, examine Indigenous literature, explore resources, and begin to plan for 2021-2022 and beyond.

Ninety secondary school teachers attended the three-day sessions that were held virtually the first two weeks of August. The sessions involved guided exploration of: the differences between the Indigenous English course and the regular English course expectations; aspects of Indigenous literatures; and an opportunity to network with consultants and other teachers who will be teaching the course in the upcoming year. Teachers were also able to hear from Ojibwe writer Drew Hayden Tayler about being an Indigenous writer in Canada and ask him questions. This very successful summer learning course will be followed up this year with ongoing support for teachers in both semesters.

 

FSL 1-3 collaborative Inquiry

This inquiry project supported Primary classrooms in French Immersion to incorporate learning about first peoples through the process of land acknowledgement and land-based learning. There have been requests from French Immersion teachers to provide language specific PD to support the inclusion of Indigenous content and pedagogical practices in French Immersion settings.

  • Three sessions per grade were offered (repeated three times to meet all school schedules).
  • Thirty-six teachers participated with their primary classes. There was representation from all fours areas of the Board (central, east, west, north).
  • Approximate student reach was 700.

 

Native-Land Guided Inquiry Secondary Educators

There have been many requests from secondary educators in all subject areas to provide PD to support the inclusion of Indigenous content and pedagogical practices into their classes in authentic meaningful ways.  To support both educator learning and student learning we offered a guided inquiry in collaboration with the Director of Native-Land.ca. Twenty-five secondary educators teaching 12 different courses participated in the four-part learning series.

Educators met with consultants from the Indigenous Education team as well as consultants from History/Geography/Literacy and Assessment teams to learn about Indigenous pedagogy, ways of knowing through a guided inquiry process.  Four separate sessions were held with educators to support their own learning. Consultants provided support to educators one to one and classrooms between sessions.  The director of Native-Land.ca also supported the learning by offering teaching and support with the digital tool.  We had very positive feedback from educators and students. 

 


Updated: December 2021