Reconciliation Legacy Project Tool Kit
Màmawi Together held a Youth for Reconciliation Day in 2017 to mark the Canada 150. The youth created nine challenges for decision makers, school systems and all Canadians. One of these nine challenges was a call out to all Canadian schools to commit to Reconciliation Legacy Projects in their school or community - this is the Màmawi Together National Challenge. All Indigenous activities and classroom learning to create awareness and understanding are important and valued. However, the youth have asked us for more. Every school will have its own entry point to respond.
Legacy Projects are special projects or ongoing and/or annual commitments that will have a meaningful and long-lasting impact in increasing Indigenous awareness, education and reconciliation activities in schools and the community. They can be initiated by a Principal, teacher, student(s) and or parents with the guidance of Elders, and Indigenous community members wherever possible is highly recommended. Involvement of student leadership clubs and parent councils in spearheading and/or supporting legacy reconciliation projects is also recommended to help bring legacy projects to fruition, but also for the rich learning involved for all.
Ideas for Legacy Projects:
1. Annual Commemorations, Celebrations and Events
2. Arts Projects
3. Update Your School Library & Teacher Resources
4. Develop Regular Procedures & Routines focused on Indigenous Education & Reconciliation
5. Explore Creating an Aboriginal Lodge
6. Indigenous Social Justice & Other Youth Leadership Initiatives
7. Maintain a Digital School Reconciliation Archive
1. Commit to Annual Commemorations, Celebrations & Events
Plan annual Orange Shirt Day (September 30) Commemorations.
Encourage both staff and students to wear an orange shirt in remembrance of the children who attended residential schools, many of whom did not return home.
The date is significant, as this is the time of year when most children were removed from their homes and sent away to residential schools. This is a prime opportunity to invite First Nations community members, local governments, schools and communities to come together to raise awareness and in the spirit of reconciliation. #everychildmatters
June 21 is recognized as National Indigenous Peoples Day.
The day coincides with the summer solstice, the longest day of the year. This day provides an annual opportunity to learn about and celebrate the heritage, culture and achievements of Indigenous peoples in your school community and the rest of Canada. Ideas for annual events in your school and community, as well as suggestions on how to promote them, are available at: Plan for National Indigenous Peoples Day and #indigenouspeoplesday
Host an Annual Special Day or Evening Event
School community teams (administration, teachers, students, parents, Indigenous Education board leads and local Indigenous community members) can work together to offer a special learning event during or after the school day. If your event is held in the evening, consider ways in which you can make it a family friendly gathering such as possibly offering child care
2. Collaborate on Art Projects
The ideas for arts projects are endless. Teachers, Principals, students and parent councils can work together on ideas, in consultation with your Indigenous Education board lead, Elders, local or Indigenous community members. Community and provincial grants may be available for such collaborative projects.
One example is creating an art mural such as the Màmawi Together Art Mural co-created with the guidance of Algonquin Elder and artist Albert Dumont and students at Pleasant Park Public Elementary and Ridgemont High Schools in Ottawa. The mural was unveiled with the broader community joining as a gesture of reconciliation on June 10, 2015. Funding was provided by local businesses, individuals and through a municipal grant City of Ottawa Paint-it-Up Mural Grant.
Project of Heart
Project of Heart is an inquiry based, hands-on, collaborative, inter-generational, artistic journey of seeking truth about the history of Aboriginal people in Canada.
Literary projects, drama or musical productions
Literary projects, drama or musical productions with the guidance of an Indigenous artist, Elder or Indigenous community member, or showcasing works by Indigenous writers, playwrights or composers are other possible projects. Learning directly form Indigenous artists or their work and incorporating Indigenous and non-Indigenous students could highlight past or on-going social justice issues for long-lasting impacts. Explore opportunities at local theatres and galleries. In the Ottawa area: the NAC, OAG, NAGC.
3. Update Your School Library & Teacher Resources
It is important that schools no longer share books with children that hold onto racist terms, perpetuate racial stereotypes, or ignore the rich contributions of Indigenous peoples, their perspectives and their histories. Consider putting together a team (school librarian, Indigenous Education board lead, Elder, parents, Indigenous parent or community member) to cull the school library and dispose of books that perpetuate racist attitudes and untruths about Indigenous peoples and Canadian history.
An excellent checklist for identifying stereotyping and bias in learning resources can be found in Chapter 3 of Beyond Words: Creating Racism-Free Schools for Aboriginal Learners, by the British Columbia Teachers’ Federation.
Once you have culled the inappropriate books, replace them with others that promote reconciliation and learning. Suggestions are available at Residential Schools - children books, Reconciliation and Children's books by Indigenous Authors.
A legacy project commitment could also be an ongoing commitment to incorporate Indigenous perspectives, histories and knowledge into classrooms, including math and science class with the assistance of programs such as STEM Ottawa. Develop a team of teachers who are interested in collaborating on cross curricular projects that will provide rich learning opportunities for students while covering expectations from several subject areas. When the opportunity rises to purchase new teacher resources, work with your Indigenous Education board lead to acquire resources that will support teachers.
There are many professional organizations such as FNMIEAO and Saskatchewan Teachers Federation which offer resources, and there are several toolkits which are minimal or no cost: It's Our Time, Legacy of Hope, Project of Heart, Four Seasons of Reconciliation Education Resource
4. Develop Regular Routines Focused on Indigenous Education & Reconciliation
Legacy projects can last all year each year, if they are incorporated into your school’s regular routines. One idea is to include a territory acknowledgement in your morning announcements and school assemblies, similar to the following: “Good morning students. First we would like to acknowledge that the land on which we gather here today is the traditional unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishnaabeg People”. One website with more information on territory acknowledgements is: https://carleton.ca/indigenous/resources/territory-acknowledgement/.
Work with your school board Indigenous Education lead, an Elder, community partners and students to create a territory acknowledgement sign for all to see when they enter the school.
Announce an Indigenous Language “word of the week”. @Jayodjiick, Algonquin writer and artist, provides a Algonquin word of the day. You could also consider playing the national anthem in an Indigenous language in addition to English and French, when the local Indigenous community agrees with this. Seek guidance from your First Nations, Metis and Inuit Education board lead.
Invite Elders or Indigenous community members to school and community events. Ask local Elders or community leaders to attend events such as Orange Shirt Day, Remembrance Day, annual school community events and graduation ceremonies, to open, address the attendees, and close the event.
At the secondary level there are several Indigenous Studies courses available to students. Offer these courses at your school and at course selection time. Students can gain Ontario graduation compulsory course credits with some of these classes. Ontario Curriculum.
5. Explore How to Build an Aboriginal Lodge
An Aboriginal Lodge is a gathering place for Indigenous students as well as non-Indigenous students and the school and Indigenous community – where all are welcome. This has been done at some schools by turning a classroom into a Lodge with the support of Elders, local Indigenous community, youth led Leadership Clubs to create this special gathering and learning space at their school. Examples can be viewed here: Rideau High School, Notre Dame High School, Gloucester High School.
6. Social Justice Initiatives & Other Youth Leadership Development Opportunities
Create an Indigenous Club as a Legacy Project or work within existing Student Council, Me to We, Impact Club, United Nations Clubs and other clubs to create legacy project commitments and other social justice activities related to Indigenous rights and the UN Declaration on Indigenous Peoples. These are places where students show their interests in social justice. Create learning opportunities for these student groups, and then encourage students to determine how they can be leaders in change. Schools are encouraged to respond in their own way to the National Challenge with the support of their Indigenous Education lead and Elders, Indigenous community members, to support Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth, in working and learning together. Examples of such projects and initiatives to help inspire students are: Imagine A Canada, Autumn Peltier Water Advocate, Shannen’s Dream, Project of Heart, the Moose Hide Campaign and the Gord Downie and Chanie Wenjack Fund (Schools link) and Paul Martin Foundation. For example: one non-Indigenous youth created a water initiative with the support of their school administrator and their newly formed Indigenous Club. This student led initiative involved inviting a First Nation’s youth spokesperson to their school for a day of deeper and cross-curriculum learning on the need for clean water in reserves. Another school created a mentorship program with an accounting firm with the assistance of the Paul Martin Foundation.
7. Create Digital Reconciliation Archive
Once your school has completed reconciliation projects and activities, keep a record of it! Create a central digital repository using file-sharing software such as Google Docs or Box (https://www.box.com/en-gb/home), where you can store photos, videos, speeches, publications, links to social media posts, student projects or any other document related to your reconciliation activities. This will support new administration and staff members to see and understand your commitment and work in reconciliation. See Hillcrest High School’s example.
This is an ever-evolving Toolkit. Please contact your school board Indigenous Education or Equity/Diversity Lead contact as they will always have more suggestions.
Please share your ideas and projects to inspire other schools to: #MTNational Challenge #MamawiTogether #MTSpeakerSeries