On Monday, July 12th, Teach For Canada’s 2021 Cohort began their Summer Enrichment Program, joining Indigenous leaders, northern teachers, and education experts online for a meaningful virtual learning experience braiding tradition, history, and pedagogy with technology.
This unique, two-week program typically brings cohorts together in-person, at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ontario. Since 2020, the Summer Enrichment Program has been fully digitized as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Day 1: Monday, July 12, 2021
The first day’s sessions were all about introductions. Participants collaborated and got to know each other with a Welcome Circle led by Elders-In-Residence Tammy and Bernard Nelson, followed by icebreakers.
“It was great to meet all the TFC staff and teachers going up to the North today. Thank you as well, to Tammy and Bernard Nelson, for welcoming us, the prayer, smudging, and song at the end.”
“Today I learned that everyone is different, but that is what makes us unique educators!”
Day 2: Tuesday July 13, 2021
Participants in Day 2 of our Summer Enrichment Program learned all about Cultural Adjustment from Randy Weekes, Director, Duty of Care Programs at CANADEM.
Randy provided guidance for our 2021 Teacher Cohort on making adaptations as they prepare to transition into new roles, cultures, and communities in remote First Nations.
What the 2021 Cohort is saying about Randy’s session:
Today I learned that “Curiosity trumps judgement.” – Randy Weekes
“Remain true to who you are! Be a learner! Thank you, Randy!”
Tuesday’s afternoon programming featured the first Sharing our Gifts session, a meaningful program series connecting teachers with Elders and Knowledge Keepers as they share their gifts. This session featured Traditional Healing with Elder Ralph Johnson.
Day 3: Wednesday, July 14, 2021
On Wednesday, Laura Maracle led the 2021 Cohort through a virtual presentation on the Indigenous Histories of Turtle Island.
Participants were encouraged to learn and unlearn, while taking part in meaningful discussions as a group and in smaller break-out rooms.
Wednesday afternoon’s Sharing our Gifts session featured Outdoor & Land-based Teaching, and Community Life with Elder Ron Kelly from Ojibways of Onigaming First Nation.
What did our SEP participants think of Day 3?
“Today I learned to listen to understand, not merely to respond.”
“Today I learned about the power of love and perseverance in the face of pain and suffering.”
“Today I learned that stories from our past can be painful but meaningful. The Elders and Knowledge Keepers help to keep culture alive and remind us who we are.”
“We are not more important than the birds, the bees, rocks, leaves etc… We are all connected.”
Day 4: Thursday, July 15, 2021
On Day 4 of SEP, our 2021 Teacher Cohort learned about Historical Trauma and Indian Residential Schools in an emotional and impactful discussion led by Elder Dan Thomas.
During this session, Thomas discussed his own experiences as a survivor of the residential school system. He touched upon the ways that intergenerational trauma has and continues to negatively affect Indigenous populations.
Participants were able to reflect and comment on the magnitude of the session by sharing their takeaways.
Some themes covered in this session may have been triggering for some. Participants were reminded that Teach For Canada educators are encouraged to connect with SEP Elders-in-Residence for support, and may take advantage of counselling sessions to talk through their learnings. These resources are readily available for all Teach For Canada educators at no-cost, leading up to and throughout their time in the North.
Thursday afternoon’s Sharing our Gifts session featured Star Chart Teachings lead by William Dumas & Larry Bird.
Participant feedback on Day 4:
“Education and empowerment can heal all intergenerational and contemporary traumas!”
“Today I learned how to be a better ally for my students and community.”
“Storytelling is historical, not legend. Oji-Cree comes from the stars.”
Day 5: Friday, July 16, 2021
Friday marked the halfway point of the 2021 Summer Enrichment Program. Our Teacher Cohort engaged with award-winning columnist, scholar, and educator, Dr. Niigaan Sinclair, to explore how Indigenous Education can save the world.
Sinclair’s presentation highlights the importance of Indigenous Education in uplifting communities. During the session, he discussed how the maintenance of community and one’s role within both the community and family is crucial to understanding the Indigenous lens of education. Success is measured, not in terms of the money or status achieved, but by one’s ability to lift up the community and improve the lives of the next generation.
Friday afternoon’s program offering was Meet The Teacher: an interactive virtual event connecting matched teachers with members of their chosen communities. The goal of this session was to begin to foster and build relationships between teachers and community members.
Here’s what our 2021 teacher cohort had to say about Friday’s sessions:
“Indigenous education is about the future, not the past”.
“We can teach our students to live effectively in their space”
We’re looking forward to another week of learning and getting to know our 2021 Teacher Cohort, as we prepare them to fill much needed roles as educators in remote First Nations.