Welcome to Truths and Reconciliation through Education
We are pleased to announce the upcoming release of our book in spring 2023 with Brush Education.
Adrian shares how his memory of a climbing trip to Mount Athabasca in Jasper National Park in 2018 was brought to new understandings through learning the history of the Park and the colonial forces that shaped its formation. By partnering with the Metis Nation of Alberta and using art to reflect on how place shapes identity, Adrian reflects on his position as an outsider in relation to Métis history. By merging images of fur trade history with the modern use of the Park, art facilitated the re-imaging and re-picturing of the landscape and highlighted how the land connects us through time. Ethically creating this art meant seeking a formal collaboration with the Métis to ensure an authentic understanding of Métis history and ways of knowing using a strength-based approach.
As a student services professional, Mandie tackles the difficult topics of white fragility, racism, and unlearning as part of her reconciliatory experience. In supporting Indigenous colleagues, and shouldering some of the emotional labour required to alter unjust systemic disadvantages, Mandie shares multiple insights into some of the fears and concerns non-Indigenous people may experience in their own unlearning and relearning.
Amy (Leedham) Thompson
Inspired by Robin Kimmerer’s (2013) teachings around bean vines, Amy has learned we must aspire to grow by reaching beyond the safety of like-minded individuals and instead grab onto the more resistant ones. Most importantly: no one thing exists in this world without the help or the life force of another and we must not give up on those who resist. Finding this truth, and through the inclusion of others, reconciliatory ways are being found.
Andra has been a special education teacher with a focus on severe behaviour, learning disabilities, and trauma-informed practice and intervention for many years. Self-described as an apprehensive settler-educator, Andra utilized critical self-reflection to examine concepts of decolonization, restorying, counter-narratives, and power and control. Weaving narratives from her first steps into reconciliation, her family’s history, a helpful mentor, and our graduate program, she argues that successfully facing fears can lead to transformative learning. The lessons learned through her service-learning project offer a much-needed perspective to non-Indigenous educators new to reconciliatory practice.
As an Inuvialuit woman with Finnish, Irish, German, and Swedish ancestry and working as a separate school teacher, Ashley explores her positionality and background as a child of an Indian Residential School survivor. She examines the disconnection from her Inuvialuit family, traditions, and culture that resulted from her father’s attendance at an “elite” residential school. In relocating to an urban school in southern Alberta, Ashley shares how she has been taught the customs, traditions, and culture of the Blackfoot People of the Treaty 7 territory and accepted as a family member in her new home and community.
Erin Cavallin, Helen Domstad, & Harmony Jeffery Gordon
As a trio of public educators of Indigenous and non-Indigenous ancestry, Erin, Helen, and Harmony set out to work with WinSport, a leader in recreation and athletic development in southern Alberta. Guided by the foundational knowledge and teachings received in the University of Calgary’s Indigenous Education: A Call to Action program, their pathway to working on reconciliation with this enthusiastic community partner was reoriented to pinpoint decolonization as the trailhead. With all parties focused on relationship building, reciprocity, and a willingness to take risks, all travelled their own journey towards reconciliation.
As a former learning and instructional design specialist at the Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning (and now Vice-Principal at an urban school), Haboun addressed the apprehension of many post-secondary educators when asked to decolonize and Indigenize their curriculum. As a woman of colour, Haboun felt she could relate to injustices but another part of that walk felt unfamiliar. Inspired by the Call to Action program and Battiste’s book, Decolonizing Education Nourishing the Learning Spirit, Haboun co-facilitated a book club where Indigenous and non-Indigenous educational developers and designers spoke to, learned from, and witnessed the complex interconnections of everyday encounters in this setting.
Jennifer Brooks is a settler Canadian originally hailing from unceded Sekani territory in north central British Columbia who spent three years working at a B.C. offshore school in Doha, Qatar. In this international context, Jennifer found three themes emerged during her time as an international teacher of a Canadian curriculum and a student in the Call to Action program. These three lessons were: the openness of my students to learning about Canada’s history of colonization, the vast differences in educator familiarity with, and understanding of, Canada’s past, and the discovery of a need for action outside of Canada in response to reconciliation.
Jennifer Paulson, Elisa Lacerda-Vandenborn & Patricia Danyluk
Jennifer Paulson is a mathematics teacher currently working with a public school board in Alberta. Her teaching practice is grounded in principles of reconciliatory education and guided by a desire for Canadian public education systems to address colonial inequities so that educators and communities may collaboratively work to restore dignity to Indigenous knowledge systems and meaningfully meet the learning needs of all students entrusted to their care.
As a Tsimshian woman from the Lax Kw’alaams First Nation in the northwest coast of British Columbia, Kerry embarked on a journey of self-discovery through the Call to Action program. As an Indigenous woman whose intergenerational trauma had imposed doubt on her self-worth, Kerry shares her journey through the four directions of her life learning. Her story relays how the recognition of her own value and contributions to Indigeneity have empowered her.
For too long, settlers have been doing the talking and telling in their relations with Indigenous Peoples. Listening, active listening, is what is needed now – especially when significant stories are shared that evoke and provoke deep reflection in individuals. Teaching in a large urban district in Calgary, Michael enrolled in the Call to Action program in 2018 hoping to respond to the calls issued by the Truth and Reconciliation Commision (2015). Listening to Indigenous peoples and their stories shook and stirred me out of my paralysis and my previously held perspectives and provided a path forward.
In her long-time role as a kindergarten teacher, Michelle Bamford was inspired by her young students to meet the neighbours living across from her workplace in the Tsuut’ina Nation. She thought if her young students could meet Tsuut’ina early learners, Elders and Indigenous teachers, perhaps these relationships could have a positive influence on their respective parents. In learning and discovering truths about colonization and reconciliation in Canada through the Call to Action program, Michelle felt the time was right for local settler families to get to know the community that has lived right next door to them – nearby, yet still unknown.
The Eeyou-Eenou-Northern Cree concept of the mind’s eye honours a person’s ability to see past, present, and future and draws on the principles of relationality and interconnectedness. The ability to free oneself from despair using mind power translates to the act of untying the mind’s knot or, in other words, setting hope free. The work of reconciliation similarly requires Indigenous and non-Indigenous persons working together to first untie the knot of past harms, acknowledge negative perspectives, and then accept responsibility for effecting change.
As a woman from mixed Indigenous and non-Indigenous ancestry, Nyre sheds light on the hardships she faced as an Indigenous woman and the resilience she has gained through her own reconciliatory journey. Nyre shares how she represents the fourth generation impacted by residential schools and how she is working to break this cycle of trauma for future generations. By partnering with an urban Indigenous youth organization, she draws on principles of Interconnectedness and her own positionality to help empower future generations.
Sarah Beech & Darren Vaast
This reconciliatory project started with a child’s red dress, hanging on a tree, on campus. It was left there to create dialogue and awareness for others; rather unexpectedly, the dialogue continued with the same red dress hanging in a middle school classroom. A provocation. An invitation. A question of how to spark awareness with students around the disappearance of Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirit people, and support a movement to remember and honour the lives of those who were taken before their time. Led by two middle school teachers, Darren Vaast and Sarah Beech, the Heart to Heart Project took on a life of its own as students took their classroom experiences around Indigenous history and artistically responded to the injustices uncovered in their learning and shared these lessons with family, friends, and the wider community.
Tammy braids together three strands of my story: the first is my personal journey of connecting to my own Indigenous background; second, I highlight the power of relationships and the important contributions that Elders bring to our lives and understandings through the story of my capstone project; and third, I explore the pedagogical power of stories. I then bring this braid of understanding to discuss the ways that reconciliation work has taken on its own generative power in my life as I respectfully prepare and engage.