On November 4th, 2015 at our District Implementation Day on Indigenous Education, we examined our “Shared” history, looking at the WHY fueling RECONCILIATION. At the front of the gym was a large black blanket with brightly colored words spelling out the riches of First Nation communities; their teachings, languages and cultures. The blanket was full of significant, meaningful experiences, tangible and non-tangible, values and artifacts, such as: family values, the concept of gifts, community gatherings, teachings, protocols, songs, dances, art, regalia, language, territories etc…
One by one as the students, knowledge keepers and Elders spoke about the impacts of colonization, specifically the Indian Act, Residential schools and the Sixties Scoop, the values representing each story about loss of language and culture on the blanket were removed. At the end of the presentation the blanket was bare, BLACK and EMPTY.
Joy McCullough, the Education Coordinator from the Squamish Nation then stood up and offered a blanket to every school to fill with their learning about the Indigenous peoples of this place, the territory that your school was on. She challenged us to look at who we were and where we were from and asked us to learn, listen and do what we could to help our students and community move forward in RECONCILIATION.
Shared Learning teachers supported by Susan Leslie, the administration, Indigenous Support Workers and community knowledge keepers initiated Indigenous Inquiries in every school and the learning gained through these inquiries was to be visually represented on each school’s RECONCILIATION BLANKET, filling it back up with the rich components of Indigenous culture, community and language that were stripped away by our Canadian government. These blankets were to hang in every foyer of each school to welcome all who came through the doors.
The Shared Learning team was given 2 years to complete the blankets and were gifted a budget of $1300.00 and the blanket, from the Squamish Nation targeted funds.