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YRDSB Staff and Students Learning More Through Relationships with Indigenous Communities
News Release
YRDSB Staff and Students Learning More Through Relationships with Indigenous Communities
As York Region District School Board celebrates National Indigenous History Month, work continues to increase student and staff understandings about First Nations, Métis and Inuit perspectives, histories and cultures.
Over the past school year, hundreds of Board staff members and thousands of students have expanded their knowledge of Indigenous cultures and the history of the First People in Canada through student-led workshops, curriculum learning and connections with Indigenous communities. This includes:
  • Students at Markham D.H.S., Bill Hogarth S.S. and Pikangikum First Nation building connections and learning more about one another through personal photo stories with the Youth for Reconciliation project. 
  • First Nations, Métis and Inuit students attending drumming circles, spending time with Elders and knowledge keepers, learning about Métis and Inuit games, working with artists, and building community with each other. Student leaders shared some of their learning through student-led workshops for younger students and educators.
  • Schools like Bayview S.S. and E.T. Crowle P.S. working with Indigenous Artists-in-Residence to learn more about culture and to express their learning through artwork. 
  • Holding events like a student conference Celebrating Indigenous Ways and Learning at Markham D.H.S. and an Indigenous author visit at Richmond Green S.S. 
  • A student-driven research project supporting the mental health and well-being of First Nations, Métis and Inuit students.
  •  About 400 staff members receiving cultural competency training through partnerships with Enaahtig Healing Lodge, Brantford Woodland Cultural Centre, Kinomaagaye Gaamik and Georgina Island First Nation.   
  • Over 900 secondary and 750 elementary students, and 150 staff learning more about treaties from members of Indigenous communities during Treaty Recognition Week events.
  • Embedding Indigenous content into curriculum learning including in science, civics, English, art and mathematics.  
“It has been phenomenal to see all of the positive responses from the students and staff members in the Board when we, as Indigenous students, share our experiences and teachings with them. The amount of people that say "I had no idea this happened" or "I wish we had learned about this sooner" give me hope for a brighter future where people are not only aware of Canada's dark history, but also motivated to take action and support Indigenous movements. I hope this is just one of the many steps forward towards future reconciliation, and I am incredibly thankful to York Region District School Board’s First Nation, Métis and Inuit team for giving me and other Indigenous students an opportunity for our voices to be heard. Wela'lioq, thank you,” said Charlotte Clarke, student on the YRDSB First Nations, Métis and Inuit Student Leadership Team.
“To understand and to teach the truth about Canada’s past, present and future, we must listen to the voices of Indigenous communities. We see incredible learning happening when we build those relationships and share those teachings in an authentic way with staff and students,” said Pamala Agawa, First Nation, Métis and Inuit Education Curriculum Coordinator.
“It has been incredible to watch our students develop an awareness and understanding of our shared responsibility to work towards truth and reconciliation,” said Alicia Pascual, Teacher, Markham D.H.S.
“I can’t think of a better way for our country to heal than to have our students, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, become allies in the fight to break down misconceptions, unravel stereotypes, reveal truth, and build meaningful relationships. Does this mean we’ll single-handedly achieve reconciliation? Of course not. However, I believe that this is the first step in the right direction, and I hope that many others will choose to walk with us,” said Joyce Inot-Llaneta, Teacher, Markham D.H.S.

York Region District School Board is the third largest school district in Ontario with over 124,000 students in 177 elementary schools and 33 secondary schools. York Region students consistently perform above average in provincial testing and the Board is one of the top achievers in Ontario. For more information about York Region District School Board, please visit the Board website and follow @YRDSB on Twitter.
For more information contact:
Dawn Clayden, Corporate Communications
Tel: 905-727-0022 x2913

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