On Monday, July 19th, Teach For Canada’s 2021 Teacher Cohort continued the Summer Enrichment Program, joining Indigenous leaders, northern teachers, and education experts online for a second week of meaningful learnings.
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 19, 2021
Participants began the week with a presentation on Trauma Informed Classrooms led by social worker and psychotherapist, Emily Blackmoon.
The session focused on how teachers can communicate with and understand students who may be experiencing trauma, with the goal of providing the best learning outcomes for their classes.
Here’s what some participants had to say about the session:
“Belongingness and love need actualization.”
“Actions that I perceive as misbehaviour are actually communication.”
“It’s culture and relationships that heal.”
The afternoon had the cohort participating in their first language lesson, where they familiarized themselves with the the basics of Swampy Cree, Oji-Cree and Ojibwe with Darlene Kakepetum, Patricia Ningewance and Rita Thompson.
Day 2: Tuesday July 20, 2021
On Day 7 of the 2021 Summer Enrichment Program, our Teacher Cohort had the unique opportunity of immersing themselves in nature from behind a screen.
Guided by Brian Bellefeuille, this Land Based Learning session had participants discussing the role of the land in Indigenous education and culture, as well as the importance of the environment. Using imaginative and innovative techniques, like digital environments created with home-made video, Brian led a digital walk in the bush and offered teachings on teepees, directional trees, and pine groves.
In the afternoon, participants continued their Indigenous language lessons in Swampy Cree, Oji-Cree, and Ojibwe with Darlene Kakepetum, Patricia Ningewance, and Rita Thompson.
Here’s what our participants had to say about Day 7:
“Songlines are navigational routes that trace the journey of ancestral spirits.”
“Today I learned that there is no word for “you’re welcome in Oji-Cree.”
“Today I learned how teepees work in the winter.”
“Today I learned about directional trees (and lots more traditional knowledge)!”
Day 3: Wednesday, July 21, 2021
Wednesday marked the midway point of the second week of SEP. Our teacher cohort began the day with an informative and meaningful presentation entitled miýikosowin: Finding Our Giftedness, in which Ida Swan and Angelina Weenie discussed the importance of supporting student giftedness in the classroom.
Swan and Weenie, Assistant Professors of Indigenous Education at the First Nations University of Canada, discussed the power of storytelling, the need to view children as whole people, and the importance of looking within ourselves, and towards our origins and traditions, to discover who we are as a people.
“It is in our traditional stories and beliefs that we find ways to reconnect and to reclaim who we are. It is within self that we come to know and understand. It is the inward journey that begins the process of how we work forward.” – Angelina Weenie
Through this workshop our teacher cohort began to understand their own giftedness, so that they could then better help their students understand and build on their own giftedness.
“The magic begins with us.” – Angelina Weenie
Read “The Magic Begins with Us”, a blog highlighting Angelina and Ida’s presentation.
In the afternoon, participants took part in their final language-learning session of the program.
“Miskâsowin means finding our sense of belonging. Miýikosowin means finding our giftedness.”
“Today I learned that a talking circle is a platform to connect children to their language, culture and self.”
Day 4: Thursday, July 22, 2021
Day 9 of our Summer Enrichment Program had an emphasis on the Duty to Report. It is the law in Ontario for those who works closely with children and youth to report suspected child abuse or neglect.
The session was led by panelists Kevin Berube, former Teach For Canada Executive Director, Edith Sanderson from Child and Family Services Manitoba, Leo Atlookan, social counsellor at Eabametoong First Nation, and Karen Cox-Curdon, special education teacher at Big Grassy River First Nation.
Later in the day, participants had the chance to hear Teach For Canada alumni speak on their experiences moving, teaching, and living up North.
After a day full of discussion, participants shared their learnings:
“Today I learned about the importance of understanding community contex.t”
“Storytelling helps kids deal with grief and build healthy coping skills.”
“Today I learned I should be an advocate for my students, ALWAYS.”
“Teachers help build the community.”
“Point with your lips, not with your fingers.”
Day 5: Friday, July 23, 2021
Today marked the final day of Teach For Canada’s 2021 Summer Enrichment Program. Our Teacher Cohort started off with a session on Literacy Gap Management led by Joanna Lindeman, kindergarten teacher at Ears Falls Public School, and Rachelle Bergen, special education teacher with the Ministry of Education. Participants learned how to support emergent readers and ensure equitable learning outcomes for young Indigenous learners.
In the afternoon, our teacher cohort took part in a SEP Closing Ceremony, which featured thoughtful messages from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Tai Kwon Do Olympic athlete Skylar Park who represented RBC, Joshua Cayer, Diversity and Inclusion Talent partner from TD, and Honourable Murray Sinclair, the first Indigenous Judge in Manitoba. The ceremony closed with heartfelt congratulations to the new teaching cohort followed by an epic musical performance by Juno-award winning Indigenous band Digging Roots.
Over the course of Teach For Canada’s Summer Enrichment Program, our 2021 Cohort learned valuable lessons from incredibly knowledgeable and experienced professionals. These learnings will stay with them as they move North to fill much needed teaching roles in First Nations in northern Ontario and Manitoba.
We leave you with some final, post-SEP reflections:
“Everyone has giftedness and when we all work together amazing ideas, learning, and positive change for [the] future can happen.”
“Going North will add so much more in my life learning and experiences.”
“I can’t stop talking about how amazing the 2021 cohort is!”
Miigwetch to our presenters, facilitators, and all who made SEP possible. Congratulations to the 40 Teach For Canada educators who are one step further on their journeys North.