As educators we have a professional and ethical duty to address the debt we owe to the generations of students who have existed in the achievement and well-being gaps. An Inclusive Design approach is imperative for systems to transform themselves and to truly serve ALL students. This work cannot be optional but must be deemed necessary, sustained, precise and well-resourced. Politically, this needs to be mandated and systemically, there needs to be accountability measures to ensure that it is happening and gaps are indeed closing – that helps us ALL.
The education system is rooted in colonization which was designed to destroy the identities of many groups of children. In particular, schooling was used as a systematic tool in the cultural genocide of Indigenous peoples – the First Nations, Metis and Inuit people.
Within this context, we must recognize that a part of the work we must do through the work we have to do towards #TruthandReconciliation. This means that we have to be clear on the distinctions and intersections of this work with Equity work.
One day, when I was sitting with Dr. Duke Redbird- he said to me that Indigenous people don’t want equity with white people or their systems. Instead, Indigenous people want self-governance and determination. It is an important reminder for those doing equity work.
People who are settlers here, must know that equity work and the work to support Indigenous students are not the same. Instead the work to support Indigenous students and families is based on Nation-to-Nation treaties. Canada became its a nation alongside other the Nations that already existed here from the peoples who were here since the beginning. There were no “discoveries” made by.
When we think about #EquityasaLeadershipCompetency we must think about #TruthandReconciliation as a core part of that competency. And while we MUST look to the guidance and direction of Indigenous people, communities, nations, elders and wisdom-keepers we must also take responsibility for our own learning and interruption of processes that bring harm to them while under our responsibility. This requires us to think explicitly about how we – as educators- engage in the work of Truth and Reconciliation especially since we know these systems were designed to destroy Indigenous peoples.
By not learning and doing more – we are complicit, in spite of our own good intentions.
And while we are fighting for equity in these systems- Indigenous peoples are fighting for the survival of their people, customs, cultures, traditions, languages. These were the First Nations here on Turtle Island. And beyond survival – they are working towards new generations of Indigenous people who will flourish and grow to be strong in their identities. The narrative of the conditions imposed on Indigenous people is not the narrative OF Indigenous peoples- their intelligence, resilience, strength, courage and the gifts and wisdom they have to share with us. It is important that while we speak of conditions that may exist- we do not equate the two.
So today’s question: What is the learning and doing I have been engaged in/need to do towards #TruthandReconciliation: What ways can we or have we positioned ourselves to learn from Indigenous people so that we may become better educators and how am I going to use that learning to interrupt existing systems to support Indigenous children and families?