YRDSB Staff and Students Continue Learning Through Relationships with Indigenous Communities

News Release


Aurora, ON – As York Region District School Board celebrates National Indigenous History Month and National Indigenous Peoples day, work continues to increase student and staff understandings about First Nations, Métis and Inuit perspectives, histories and cultures.

Over the past school year, Board staff members and students throughout YRDSB have expanded their knowledge of Indigenous cultures and the history of First Peoples in Canada through student-led workshops, curriculum learning and connections with Indigenous communities. This includes:

  • A new Specialist High-Skills Major sector was introduced at Sutton D.H.S. in collaboration with the Chippewas of Georgina Island First Nation. The program will focus on environmental work supported through connections to Anishinaabe community and knowledge.
  • Through a partnership with the Tungasuvvinga Inuit, a Toronto group that supports Inuit in the GTA, Grade 10 history teachers develop materials to bring Inuit history into 20th century history courses.
  • Educators continue to deepen their own learning to embed Indigenous content into curriculum areas, including outdoor education, science, English, art, mathematics and more.
  • Principals, vice-principals and managers spent three days engaged in learning with Niigaan Sinclair about Truth and Reconciliation and the role that the education system can play.
  • First Nation, Métis and Inuit students across the board had the opportunity to connect with traditional cultures and build community through drumming circles, spending time with Elders and knowledge keepers, learning about Inuit games and working with artists.
  • Students across the Board learned more about First Nation, Métis and Inuit cultures and perspectives by connecting with Indigenous community members through art projects, beading, wampum teachings and more.
  • Blanket exercises held at school council and staff meetings helped families and educators learn more about Indigenous histories and perspectives.
  • Staff members participated in cultural competency training through partnerships with Woodland Cultural Centre, Kinomaagaye Gaamik and Georgina Island First Nation.
  • Secondary students at Sutton District HS engaged in an art installation piece based on the Red Dress Project to bring awareness to the current and historical issues faced by First Nation, Métis and Inuit peoples
  • Teacher librarians examined how to curate materials in order to bring contemporary Indigenous representation into their spaces and expand their understanding of how to expand connections with this content.

“The truth is we have done a lot of work, but there is much left to do. We are off to a good start, and we are looking forward to the future,” said Andrew McConnell, First Nation, Metis and Inuit Education Coordinator.

“As now Senator, Murray Sinclair the former Chair of Canada's Indian Residential Schools Truth and Reconciliation Commission said, “Education is what got us here, and education is what will get us out,” said Cecil Roach, Coordinating Superintendent of Education, Indigenous Education and Equity.

“I am incredibly proud of the learning our students and staff have engaged in over this past year to build a larger understanding about First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples. In the spirit of the two row wampum, I was humbled to be a lead learner alongside our incredible First Nations, Metis, and Inuit team, and I thank all of the students, staff and Indigenous communities for supporting and guiding this learning and helping us to take new and meaningful steps towards acknowledging the Truth and working towards Reconciliation.”

York Region District School Board is the third largest school district in Ontario with over 124,000 students in 178 elementary schools and 33 secondary schools. York Region students consistently perform above average in provincial testing and the Board is one of the top achievers in Ontario. For more information about the York Region District School Board, please visit the Board website and follow @YRDSB on Twitter.

For more information contact:

Dale Brusselers

Corporate Communications

905-727-0022 Ext. 2521


News Release