The Limestone District School Board (LDSB) is looking to expand its team of members of the Indian community who visit schools in the area.
The initiative to bring community members to school to share indigenous ways of knowing and being has been around for the better part of a decade.
Scot Gillam, LDSB Superintendent of Learning for All and Indigenous Education, says the visits allow teachers to incorporate valuable education into the curriculum that may be foreign to them.
“There are things that we want in our regular, daily education that can be infused there and really the best people to help support members of our indigenous community,” Gillam said.
The number of community members participating has grown year after year, and Gillam says that since taking up this position at the LDSB just over a year ago, he has seen the number of indigenous visitors grow exponentially.
Last year, visits were limited to a virtual capacity, but will return in person as public health restrictions allow.
In the past, Canadian education regarding indigenous issues and history has remained largely glazed and pacified.
Gillam says he hopes the visits will help students gain a full and unbridled understanding of the history and ongoing struggle of indigenous peoples locally and across Canada.
“There really is a hope that all students will come to understand the truth,” Gillam said.
“We just celebrated National Truth and Reconciliation Day and Orange Shirt Day, so we want all students at their developmental level to understand what that means, the history of residential schools and intergenerational trauma. “.
Gillam added that the inclusion of visits and other efforts by the LDSB can be a useful tool in not allowing truth and reconciliation to be reduced to one or two days a year.
As part of this process, schools are also asked to go through a referral process to ensure that the appropriate person from the indigenous community can come to the visit and to ensure that they adhere to a continuing education plan.
Gillam says this helps make visits an integral part of continuous learning.
“This ensures that we are not participating in specific events, we are not going to have members of the indigenous community come to demonstrate a certain ceremony and that is all,” said Gillam.
Along with the visits, professional development activities and resources for teachers are organized in coordination with holders of indigenous knowledge, including the supporting document “Knowing Tortuga Island”.
Members of the Indian community who are interested in becoming visitors to the school can contact Scot directly at [email protected]