Brockville – The Upper Canada District School Board (UCDSB) hosted a district-wide Indigenous gathering this week from May 7 to May 10 for students in grades 5 and 6. The third annual event gave students the opportunity to learn about the history and legacy of residential schools in Canada, as well as the traditions and culture of Inuit, Métis, Ojibway, Mohawk and Algonquin peoples.
Over four days, 13 schools participated with close to 1,000 students. On the first day at each location, a feast was held in the evening for the hosting communities and dignitaries. Each day saw approximately 250 students move through five different presenter sessions.
Presenter sessions included:
• Dion Metcalf introduced students to Inuit culture and games;
• Tammy and Bernard Nelson talked to students about Anishinaabe culture and provided truths about residential schools, as Bernard is a residential school survivor;
• David Jock and Frances Derouchie shared the making and using of traditional medicines and instruments of the Mohawk people;
• Archie and Pierrette Martin taught students about Métis history; and
• Danka Brewer engaged students in drumming, teaching them songs from the Algonquin First Nation and giving them the chance to sing along.
Each session had students and their teachers interacting with knowledge keepers and the artifacts they brought to share.
“This event is really important for our students in the Upper Canada School Board. It supports the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s action items, and as educators, it is part of our role to teach the truths in our systems,” said Superintendent Jodie Barrett.
Students spent time to learn about Indigenous culture and history before this event during this school year through the regular curriculum, supported by visits from Indigenous Elders and Knowledge Keepers to their classroom. This week’s events puts that learning front and centre, allowing students to make real-life connections.
“I learned that Métis means that it’s an Indigenous family and a European family mixed together,” said Zeke, from South Crosby Public School. “I think it was really fun. I learned a lot. It was really nice to see all of the presentations.”
Aydon from Rideau Vista Public School said, “I liked the drumming because I think that it was really cool to see the ways that music can teach people different things.”
Samantha from Maxville Public School said these days are important because “we can apologize for the things that happened at residential schools and to show that everyone can be together.”
The first two days of the event were held in the western portion of the Upper Canada District School Board at Pineview Public School in Athens, Ontario. The last two days were hosted by Maxville Public School at the Maxville Fair Grounds in Maxville, Ontario. The use of the Metcalf Centre and the fairgrounds was generously donated by the Kenyon Agricultural Society.
Next year Kemptville Public School will play host to TRC+4 in the west, along with Drummond Public School. In the eastern portion of the UCDSB, Russell Public School will host in 2018-19.