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District staff participate in Indigenous Focus Day

| Categories: Our People, Indigenous

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On November 26, teachers, administrators, and staff participated in a District-wide Indigenous Focus Day where staff learned about Indigenous ways of teaching. Stacey McEachern, a secondary school teacher from Eric Hamber shares her key takeaways from the session and talks about her responsibility as an educator to learn from Indigenous voices.

Written by: Stacey McEachern, teacher at Eric Hamber Secondary 

Learning takes patience and time – this is a fundamental Indigenous educational principle that is inherent to Indigenous philosophies of how to acquire, retain and share knowledge. This is one of many key First Peoples principles of learning that I have actively incorporated into my teachings at Eric Hamber. It is also a principle which I am thinking of most today as I engage in the District’s Indigenous Focus event. 

I am reminded today that these principles extend not only to my students but to myself. It takes time to learn the truths of the pride, power, intelligence, resilience, beauty, and cultures of Indigenous peoples, but the importance is paramount and the infusion of this is essential in my classroom. As Debra Sparrow so rightfully said today, “How dare anybody tell us we are lesser of intelligence.” This statement truly touched my heart. It reminded me of Canadian writer Thomas King’s poem called, I’m Not the Indian You Had in Mind. It reads: “Still, sometimes, sometimes late at night, when all the world is warm and dead, I wonder how things might have been had you followed, had we led.” 

I am listening, learning, and committed to following Indigenous voices which continue to lead me towards shifting the narrative that shapes our system today. I know that even with effort and passion it still takes patience and time, but the time is now, and it starts with us as educators.

Indigenous knowledge must be infused into my teaching as an educator in today’s classroom – and I am gratefully reminded of this today. The wisdom that was shared today from leaders of host nations, as well as youth activists and VSB student panels, gave me a collective nudge regarding the importance of truth and reconciliation. Not only because it is a call to action (#62, #63), but because we live, work, teach and learn on Indigenous land. I believe it is time for a collective commitment and priority to honour how to be active participants in reconciliation and find what that means in our personal and professional lives. This takes learning, which takes patience and time, but also effort and a renewed sense of urgency. 

How do we honour the past, yet move forward with the best of intent and compassion? Indigenous Peoples have demonstrated great patience over a long period of time for the education system to take action. I have a lot to think about after today’s day of learning. I personally feel inspired to keep striving to do more to honour the role I have as an educator and the responsibility I have to listen and learn. Thank you to the Vancouver School District for this really powerful and important day!

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