As part of our ongoing commitment to leadership development and supporting staff as we champion truth, healing and reconciliation, earlier this year, the North Vancouver School District gifted principals and vice principals with the booklet, Truth and Reconciliation: Calls to Action. Included below is a copy of the message Tsnomot Baker wrote to accompany the book gifting.
By Tsnomot, Brad Baker, District Principal, Indigenous Education
One factor that needs considerable analysis is the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada's 94 Calls to Action.
The 94 Calls to Action have laid the framework and/or foundation for all Canadians to gain a stronger understanding of Indigenous knowledge and Indigenous ways of knowing in all facets of society. These Calls to Action allow Canadians to explore the identity of Canada in the past and provides hope about what Canada's identity can become.
The basis of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission is the story of the survivors of the Indian residential school system that many, or most, Canadians have had no prior knowledge or understanding of. The Indian residential school system needs to be understood and acknowledged by all Canadians, as it was a prime example of the Government of Canada's deliberate policies of oppression that Indigenous people had to face during the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission has challenged Canadians to understand and appreciate Indigenous perspective. Canadians will hopefully gain understanding, cultural competence, and increased knowledge of First Nations, Métis and Inuit of Canada by grasping the ideals of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
As we continue to move forward with Indigenous Education, the question we need to ask is, “Where do we see ourselves in the short term and long term with an Indigenous perspective and Indigenous ways of knowing?" We know there are obstacles and challenges, but also the hope that lies ahead in the North Vancouver School District.
As an Indigenous educator, my hope is one day in the future, this discussion will continue to develop regarding Indigenous knowledge and bring insight into teaching practices in the classrooms, as it is part of all educators' growth. I know this is not going to happen overnight, as there will be educators who will be resistant, there will be educators who try but will face obstacles, and then there will be educators who will have successes. All of us have the opportunity, in this time in the history of Canada, to be change makers. Are you up to this task?
The children no longer with us, the children of today, and the children yet to come are watching us. Continue to go forward with courage.