10 Steps to Start the Conversation

Sandra Mudryj, Principal, St. Patrick Catholic School, Toronto CDSB
Dr. Frank Pio, ED.D., Program Support Teacher, Toronto CDSB FMNI Program

10 Conversation Steps

Acknowledging the 500+ year narrative of Canada’s Indigenous people for your Catholic school community

 

Where do you start a more than 500-year-old story to build an inclusive community in a Catholic setting?

As school leaders we have a moral imperative to establish tangible steps to create an inclusive educational community where the narrative can be heard and shared in a safe and respectful forum. The narrative of Canada’s Indigenous peoples is one of a history of cultural and physical abuse.

This narrative begins with the Royal Proclamation of 1493 by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain. Pope Alexander, through the Doctrine of Discovery, decrees that non-Christian nations may no longer own land in the face of claims made by Christian sovereigns. In effect, Indigenous people were placed under the guardianship of Christian nations. Next is the 1867 British North America Act and the 1876 Indian Act, which further confirmed that Canada’s Indigenous people were under the direct control of the Canadian Federal Government.

Through the Indian Act, the government denied Indigenous peoples the basic rights that most Canadians take for granted. This was followed by the federal government’s removal of Indigenous children from their communities from 1820 to the 1970s. Indigenous children were placed in church-run boarding schools far from their home communities. In these schools children endured emotional, physical and sexual abuse, which has left lasting impacts on Indigenous communities and culture. The last residential school in Canada closed in 1996.

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Medicine Wheel

Nicole Bell’s construction of the Anishinaabe Medicine Wheel teachings for Indigenous education

By Nicole Bell

Medicine Wheel by Nicole Bell

Medicine Wheel by Nicole Bell

Medicine Wheel teachings provide insight into Indigenous knowledge and worldview. The Medicine Wheel diagram reviews the gifts of each of the directions as informed by Cree Elder Michael Thrasher.

In the east, the gift of vision is found, where one is able to see. In the south, one spends time in which to relate to the vision. In the west, one uses the gift of reason to figure it out. In the north, one uses the gift of movement to do or actualize the vision. In-depth searching for knowledge is what leads to wisdom.

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