On this page, I will be recording my progress in developing and teaching a new course. I am not an expert in this field. I may have information about the Indian Act, colonialism, and genocide. I do not have the lived experience of being an Indigenous person in Canada. I therefore need to learn continually.
The first week of school always goes quickly. Monday is Labour Day, Tuesday is a brief 20-minute welcome to school, and then we only have three days left.
The goal for this week is to go over the learning outcomes for the course, then agree upon our classroom rules and consequences. After that, we will use a resource from the BC Teachers’ Federation called She Racism the Red Card to go over topics like cultural differences and what freedom of speech really means. I think that is important in setting up a foundation of mutual respect so that we can move forward in our learning journey.
The next topic we will cover is the course outline. We will go over the PowerPoint I made for BC First Peoples 12: Dakelh Focus. The Dakelh are the Indigenous Nation in this part of BC.
Finally, we will learn about the Dakelh, who they are, where they live, a brief history, their population, etc. There will be a particular focus on the Lheidli T’enneh, the Dakelh community that has lived for thousands of years in what is today the Prince George area. I have some articles we will read on these topics.
Class went very well and we covered most of the material outlined above. There was the usual beginning-of-the-year reality of students transferring in and out of classes, but things have been relatively stable thus far.
What I have really appreciated thus far is the willingness of my students to ask questions and to ask me to clarify what I am presenting. One thing that came up, something that I will need to address next week, is the topic of appropriate language to use when talking about the Indigenous Peoples of Canada. This is such a great question!
Our language has evolved significantly over the years, and it continues to evolve. I have some great resources to share, and I’ve also discussed this in workshops with Dr. Dustin Louie, an Indigenous professor at the University of Calgary and UBC.
We will start the week by completing our readings about the Dakelh and the Lheidli T’enneh.
Since the students brought up the question of acceptable terminology, we will spend a day or two talking about the words Indian, First Nations, Métis (as opposed to métis), Inuit, Aboriginal, and Indigenous, as well as settler, colonizer, ally, race, and ethnicity.
We will also talk about the history of Prince George, and how the Indian Act made it legal for the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway to “legally” displace the Fort George Indian Band from the lands they had occupied for thousands of years.
Because I see social injustice through a lens of genocide, meaning that all human rights violations are actually steps toward genocide, we will look at the Canadian Parliament’s 2022 decision to call what happened to Indigenous peoples in Canada genocide. This is an important building block for the course.
Next, we will look at the legal definition of genocide from the 1948 United Nations Genocide Convention. Then we will examine the 10 Stages of Genocide and relate it to what students already know about what happened (and is happening) in Canada.
With this knowledge of the word genocide, we will examine the Indian Act of 1867 and discuss how it evolved through the years.
Finally, we will watch Stephen Harper’s 2008 apology for the residential school system in Canada, and we will compare it to that of Stéphane Dion (the former leader of the Liberal Party of Canada), and that of Jack Layton (the former leader of the federal NDP).
We did not go nearly as far this week as I had originally planned. As we were discussing ethnic terminology, one black student brought up the “n-word”. He was able to express how painful that term is. In fact, what he said was helpful for me. I’ve heard the term “sand n-word” used for Arabs like me. It’s like a stab in the gut, or worse. It’s like you don’t matter, that you’re expendable. It was an excellent class discussion and hopefully leads to greater empathy and all students being kinder to one another.
As we were discussing genocide, particularly dehumanization as part of the genocidal process, the very real issue of homelessness in Prince George came up. This definitely ties in with current Indigenous issues in Canada, so it was an unexpected detour that we needed to take.
When discussing homelessness, I realized that not only is it largely the result of trauma in the lives of the individuals living on the street, their trauma is being passed on to my students as well. Two of my students work in the retail food industry near downtown Prince George. Others simply walk or take the bus. They are not social workers and are not equipped to deal with the intimidating behaviours of people dealing with serious mental health issues.
We will conclude our discussion of homelessness, finish going over the 10 Stages of Genocide, and then examine the Indian Act, as outlined in the plan for Week Two.
From there, we will study the 2008 parliamentary apologies.
By the end of the week, we will introduce Stoney Creek Woman by Bridget Moran, the biography of Mary John, a Dakelh elder who lived from 1913 until 2004. Moran and John were dear friends who essentially co-wrote the book. There is a statue of Moran in downtown Prince George that all the students are familiar with, so we will begin our discussion of the book by examining the significance of her life as a trailblazing social worker who was blacklisted by the BC government.
This week, we got as far as watching Stephen Harper’s apology and discussing what he was apologizing for.
We again had excellent discussions in class. I was so impressed by the insights of the students with regard to how each of the 10 Stages of Genocide is and has been a part of the Indigenous experience of life in Canada. Students were also able to recognize the genocidal nature of the Indian Act.
With Orange Shirt Day assembly this week and Orange Shirt Day taking place on Saturday, I need to take time discussing the origins and the significance of this event. I’ll read the Orange Shirt Story book and we’ll watch a video from the author. This is of special significance here in northern BC because most (if not all) of the students have been to Williams Lake, which is where St. Joseph’s Residential School stood.
After this, we will finally complete the parliamentary apologies. From there, I will introduce Stoney Creek Woman, Bridget Moran, and Mary John. Then we will begin reading the book.
Mary John’s first memory, outlined in chapters one and two, is almost losing her mother in the 1918 Spanish Flu epidemic. We will then take the opportunity to look at other historical documents from the era, noting the different ways Indigenous and white people were treated in the healthcare system, and the way they were spoken about in the media.
I have to say that the Orange Shirt Day assembly we had as a school was extremely affirming for me. An Indigenous friend of mine spoke and played his drum. He spoke about the impact of the residential school system on his family, the trauma, the alcoholism, drug addiction, and homelessness. He spoke of how important the drum and his Indigenous spirituality were to his recovery as well. It was quite powerful!
Next, an Indigenous administrator from the BC Ministry of Education spoke. He did go on for a while and may have lost the students a bit, but they remained quite respectful. He mentioned Harper’s apology, which we had just watched, and noted the insincerity therein, something my students had also picked up on. The speaker also affirmed my experience as a non-Indigenous teacher teaching about Indigenous issues. He spoke of teaching from our own experience, our own ethnicity. I often relate to lessons from my German grandparents living during the Nazi era; I purposely live each day determined NOT to let that happen again. I also relate to my Syrian grandparents living under the genocidal Ottomans and then moving to North America and trying to become “white”. I am so happy that I am on the right track!
Our class discussion of the apologies was excellent. Students picked up on the nuances in each apology, the level of emotion and sincerity in each speaker, and what their messages meant as we move forward together as a country. It was also noted that even Jack Layton did not mention the word “genocide”. It seems that Canadians were not yet ready to hear that word in reference to themselves.
The introduction to Stoney Creek Woman reiterated what we had already learned about the Dakelh, but the book also talked about how many doubted whether the Dakelh would still be around by the end of the 20thcentury, whether they would succumb to the genocidal intent of the Indian Act. By the end of the week, we got part way through the first chapter.
We will begin this week by reviewing and completing chapter one of Stoney Creek Woman. I have prepared questions to complete and go over at the end of each chapter. After completing chapter two, we will do the exercise outlined above looking at other historical documents from the time discussing the Spanish Flu epidemic in northern BC.
From there, we will take time to examine the inequalities in healthcare that continue to exist. I also share a very good interview that Peter Mansbridge did with the mother of one of our current Grade 12 students (she’s not in this class – but she and her mother both know that I like to show the interview to my classes) who is the first female Indigenous surgeon in Canada.
By the end of the week, we should be completing chapter three, where Mary discusses her childhood memories of life in the Stoney Creek village, life on the trapline, and the yearly cycle of life of the Dakelh.
This was a very good week. I finally contacted the mayor of Prince George and all the members of city council to address the issue of homelessness and to invite them to my class. Two city council members are already booked to speak to my students!
I also had an excellent idea this week. The Indigenous Education Department takes students on a trapline, and I figured out a way to make this an assignment that can be assessed. Mary John talks about going to their family’s territory and working on the trapline. My students can go on the trapline for a day, and then talk about how it compares to Mary John’s experience 100 years ago! That will be their test/project for the first part of the course.
We did not get to Chapter 3 in Stoney Creek Woman nor did we watch the inverview with the first female Indigenous surgeon in Canada. We did read and discuss historic documents about the 1918 Spanish Flu, and my students were very insightful. We also talked about the significance of Wab Kinew becoming the Premier of Manitoba.
This is a short week due to the Thanksgiving break. Our first city counselor will be coming in on Thursday to talk about homelessness in Prince George, so the first order of business on Tuesday will be to brainstorm questions for her with the students. To prepare, I found another good article on the importance of finding a way to effectively manage homelessness.
Building on the inequalities in health care we discovered through our readings about the Spanish Flu, we’ll examine more recent health statistics in Canada that demonstrate how the inequalities persist, and then we’ll view the interview with the Indigenous surgeon I mentioned earlier.
We will read and discuss Chapter Three of Stoney Creek Woman. Then I will give students their test/assignment for the first quarter of the course. They have the option of writing a 500-word essay reflecting on what they’ve learned so far, producing an original work of art, or going on the trapline and discussing their experience. This will be due at the end of next week, and I will give students time in class this week to start working on it.
I was so impressed with the questions my students came up with! It took us a whole period on Tuesday to get all of their ideas down. Then I typed them up and went over them one more time with the students before sending them to the city counselor.
Our discussion on healthcare and healthcare statistics in Canada was also very good. It was also very positive for the students to see an interview with the mother of one of their classmates where she offered solutions moving forward. I chatted with her daughter at lunchtime as well and told her how perfect her mother’s interview is for addressing issues of Indigenous healthcare in a positive way. She smiled and said she’d pass that on to her mother.
The interview with our city counselor on Thursday was not what I expected. She is from a business and a religious background, so I was afraid she’d be a bit, “Pull yourself up by your bootstraps.” I was very wrong! She was very candid with the students, and they were surprised at how honest she was about her frustrations with the rest of the council. Their view is that housing is a provincial issue, so the city can’t do very much. She does not agree, and she’s very concerned about people losing limbs again this winter. She gave me a contact for an organization that is working to make a difference for our homeless neighbours, so I will make it a point to contact them.
The test/project work on Thursday went very well. We talked about all the topics we’d covered since September so students would have a better idea of what to do for their tests/projects. I was surprised at how much ground we’d covered in six weeks.
Finally, I had to contact the parents of the students who are not doing well in the class so far. I’m confident that they will all do fine, however. The work is doable for all of them, and they are all engaged in class.
We will finally get to Chapter Three of Stoney Creek Woman. We will also do chapters four through six, where she talks about her time at Lejac Residential School. I have students whose families went there as well.
This will be a segway into our unit on the residential school system in Canada. I will be using a resource called 100 Years of Loss put out by the Legacy of Hope Foundation.
In addition, I will give the students one more day to work on their test/project.
I took a detour from my planned lessons this week due to the ongoing conflict in Israel-Palestine. The majority of my students were interested, and it turned out to be a great teaching moment. I was able to guide students in applying what they have already learned about genocide and compare it to the analysis of the current situation by Israeli genocide scholar Raz Siegel.
That said, I also learned an important lesson: it is very difficult to bring understanding to a conflict that has been going on for over 100 years when you begin from October 7, 2023. I am working with a group from the BC Teachers’ Federation to develop a resource on the history of this conflict. If we can effectively tie in the topic of settler-colonialism, it will fit in very well with a BC First Peoples 12 course.
Because we had another four-day week with a professional development day on Friday and the discussion on Israel-Palestine took three and a half days, I moved the due date for the test/project to next week. We will also resume reading Stoney Creek Woman next week.
This will be our first full, five-day week in a while.
Students will turn in their test/project. We will finally get to Chapter Three of Stoney Creek Woman. We will also do chapters four through six, where she talks about her time at Lejac Residential School. I have students whose families went there as well.
This will be a segway into our unit on the residential school system in Canada. I will be using a resource called 100 Years of Loss put out by the Legacy of Hope Foundation.
On Friday, another member of the Prince George City Council will talk to my students about homelessness.
This was the first week I got through almost all of what I had planned! I am very impressed with the work of many of my students on their test/project. Some did beautiful artwork, others wrote essays, and one did a really great podcast-type recording where he discussed with our Educational Assistant all that he had learned thus far. The only frustration I had was that some students used AI to do their work. That is such a frustration! I made them re-do the work, but I just wish that ChatGPT was never invented!
The reading of Chapters 3 through 6 of Stoney Creek Woman went extremely well. It is so well written, and students were very engaged. Mary John talked about her childhood in her village, on her family’s hunting grounds, and in the cabin on their trapline. She made it clear how hard they had to work to prepare enough food to get through the winter, but there was much warmth and joy in the narrative.
Mary also talked about her years at Lejac Residential School. She was not abused. In her own words, she was the teachers’ pet. Still, it was such a sad place. She watched other children get beaten for speaking their language or trying to escape. The children all did a lot of physical work and had little privacy. The food was awful, the school was underfunded, and all Mary could think of was going home for the summer. The book also brings out how Indigenous families were constantly petitioning the government for schools in their villages but were always refused.
The visit on Friday from a member of our city council also went very well. The students asked very good questions, but some were clearly more engaged than others. He also gave the students some information on getting engaged in providing input to city plans.
We did not get to the materials from the Legacy of Hope Foundation, but we will begin that on Monday.
To begin the week, I would like to wrap up our discussion with our city council member. I am going to share the City of Prince George website page that features surveys and other opportunities for citizen input.
From there, we will resume using resources from the Legacy of Hope Foundation
(https://legacyofhope.ca/english/education/). We will begin with a video called “Where are the Children?”. Then, we will use a timeline of the residential school system in Canada that I have hanging in my classroom. It is called “100 Years of Loss”. It mentions the Indian Act and several other historic government documents that demonstrate the intent of the Canadian government to assimilate our Indigenous neighbours.
We will then look at the efforts of Dr. P. H. Bryce to prevent the unnecessary deaths of children in these residential schools and look at the response of the Canadian government, namely that of Duncan Campbell Scott, the minister in charge of the Department of Indian Affairs at the time.
The final task of the week will be to study the photographs of Thomas More, an Indigenous boy whose pictures were taken to show how effective residential schools were at “civilizing” Indigenous children.
This was an excellent week.
My presentation of opportunities for citizen involvement made me want to get more involved in the governance of my community. I hope it had the same impact on my students.
The resources from the Legacy of Hope Foundation were excellent. It was fascinating to see how well they lined up with the experience of Mary John in residential school. One of the documents from around 1880 even mentioned the sum of $125 per student. Mary John mentioned that exact same sum in discussions about school funding more than 40 years later!
I think my students were shocked to see the actual use of racist terms in the historic documents we looked at, as well as the clear intent to assimilate the Indigenous population in Canada. The term “kill the Indian in the child” was not used, but the intent was clearly reflected in the documents.
We got as far as talking about Dr. Bryce and Mr. Scott. We will begin the new week delving further into this topic.
Last week we got as far as introducing Dr. Bryce. To start the week, we will watch a video made by his great-grandson and then discuss it. From there, we will discuss the famous Thomas Moore before and after pictures. I have a good CBC podcast to listen to on this topic. I’ve never just played a podcast for a class, so we’ll see how it goes.
From there, we will listen to accounts from other residential school survivors from northern BC on the Legacy of Hope website. Then we will look at daily life in the residential schools.
Finally, I have a great worksheet that shows the gradual destructive impact on Indigenous communities caused by residential schools over the last 100 years. From there, we will look at the social problems that persist as a direct result of these crimes against humanity.
Lastly, we’ll look at healing and examine a Project of Heart artwork the students of our school did about eight years ago. It is on permanent display in our school, and it is called “Healing through Education.”
We are now half-way through the semester. All assignments from the first term need to be in, and I will be working on report cards this weekend. Of course, I will still update marks if students turn work in later.
The assignment with Dr. Bryce went very well. The refusal to improve schools according to his recommendations to reduce the incidence of TB is evidence of genocidal intent on the part of the Canadian government. The students can see that very clearly, especially since we began the year with a focus on the concept of genocide.
The podcast to supplement the Thomas Moore pictures was extremely well researched and very helpful. The two pictures were completely staged as part of a propaganda program to show how effective the residential schools were at “civilizing” Indigenous children. The most disturbing thing we learned was that poor little Thomas was dead from TB when the Canadian government launched the publicity campaign using his picture. Imagine how his poor parents felt (if they even knew about it).
Wednesday was Indigenous Remembrance Day, so our Indigenous Youth Worker talked to the class about this and about his grandfather, who had fought in World War I. He also talked about the discrimination Indigenous veterans faced when they got home. He mentioned the film “Wind Talkers”, about the Navaho language/code used in World War II. I decided to show it to the class on Thursday and Friday. It was a bit too violent for my liking and the character development wasn’t particularly strong, but I think the students liked it.
In the film, they mentioned the massacre of Indigenous people in the US at the hands of the army. I had a hard time talking to my students about that. In fact, I often feel terrible telling them about the injustices Indigenous people faced. Many of my students are Indigenous, so I know it hurts to learn that. But, can we have reconciliation without truth? Maybe it hurts me more to talk about this because of what is happening in Gaza. That crisis weighs heavy on my heart. Haven’t we learned anything at all as a nation? Why is our government letting this happen – again?
We did not get as far as I’d originally planned last week due to our detour for Indigenous Remembrance Day. We’ll begin the week reviewing what we learned about Thomas Moore.
From there, we will listen to accounts from other residential school survivors from northern BC on the Legacy of Hope website. Then we will look at daily life in the residential schools.
After that, we will work on the worksheet that shows the gradual destructive impact on Indigenous communities caused by residential schools over the last 100 years. This ties in very well with another worksheet about the social problems that persist as a direct result of these crimes against humanity.
The focus then will be on healing projects, so we’ll look at the Project of Heart artwork the students of our school did about eight years ago. It is on permanent display in our school, and it is called “Healing through Education.”
I realize that I did not do a lot of evaluation in the first term. I collected daily work and we did one summary project, but I don’t think that was enough. I therefore decided to do a summary project on the residential schools. The plan is to work on that in class on Friday and have it due by the end of next week.
We actually got done everything that was planned this week! It was only a four-day week due to the Remembrance Day statutory holiday on Monday.
On Tuesday we began with a review of “The Boy in the Picture”. Then we watched videos with testimonials for survivors of residential schools.
We went over a really good illustration of the intergenerational trauma inflicted by residential schools between the 1880s and now. It really shows how trauma was compounded on trauma. We used that information to analyze the impact of the schools on poverty, substance abuse, children in care, incarceration rates, poor health, etc.
We took some time to look at reconciliation. My school has a beautiful art display that was done as a Project of Heart activity about eight years ago. I think we don’t pay enough attention to it these days, even though it is in a prominent place near the school entrance, so I always talk to my classes about it. I also show them the small contribution my daughter made when she was a student at our school.
Students are now working on their test/project for our unit on residential schools. It is due next Thursday. I look forward to seeing what impacted them.
This week we will get back to reading Stoney Creek Woman. It has been over a month since we have done so.
We’ll begin with Mary getting to stay home for good. There is a powerful scene where her mother stands up to an RCMP officer who tries to take Mary back to Lejac Residential School. She spends a few happy years with her family, living the Dakelh way, but then her parents arrange her marriage at 16. Fortunately, she ended up with a very good man.
Friday is a pro-d day. I plan to work on my Dakelh, either at a workshop or using the online resource and studying on my own.
It was nice to get back into Mary John’s book this week. I think the students enjoyed it too. It really supports the other resources we are studying.
The projects my students turned in have been excellent. They vary from essays to podcasts to poems to collages to paintings. I am so glad I can give students ways to really show their learning using mediums that work for them.
One thing we did in class that I hadn’t really planned was that we started watching the documentary “For Love”. It was produced in part by the local Carrier-Sekani office. Again, it reinforces so many of the things that we are covering in class.
I also really enjoyed the Dakelh workshop I attended on Friday. I even got to meet one of Mary John’s nieces!
I have several students going on the trapline on Monday, and the rest of the class will finish watching “For Love.”
Over the rest of the week, we will read chapters 10-14 of Stoney Creek Woman. This is the part of the book where Mary John talks about her family’s experience of the Great Depression. We will therefore watch a CBC-produced video about what this was like elsewhere in Canada to give context.
These chapters in Stoney Creek Woman were tough to read. Mary faced so much suffering in her life, from losing three of her twelve children, to losing her step-father, her mother, and her brother. She and her husband Lazare also struggled to put food on the table through the depression, and to add to it she faced the humiliation of having to deal with a racist and misogynistic Indian Agent.
I think the students got a lot out of reading the book. Everyone loves Mary John. We are all impacted by the challenges she faced, and yet inspired by her resiliency.
We will need to start the week by completing Chapter 14. We got partway through the questions on Friday. This is the chapter where Mary loses her brother Mark. He was diagnosed with tuberculosis when he tried to enlist in the Canadian Army for World War II. I think it is good for the students to see how racist Canadian society with regard to other minorities as well, so I will show a CBC documentary about the treatments of Japanese-Canadians at that time.
After that we will read Chapter 15. Here, Mary talks about getting a job at the local Catholic elementary school to teach Carrier (Dakelh) language and culture. Here we will discuss the new Dakelh curriculum and some resources for learning the language. We will start learning the language yet, however. We will do that in January. To be honest, I’d like to take some more time to prepare myself. I find teaching a language I don’t know to be a daunting idea!
After that, we will teach Chapters 16-18. After Chapter 18, we will begin talking about Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and the Highway of Tears, which runs by Stoney Creek. The next few chapters talk about one of the earlier cases of the murder of an Indigenous woman and Mary John’s involvement in trying to get justice.
We only got to Chapter 16 in Stoney Creek Woman, which is fine. Instead, I gave a bit of an introduction to the Dakelh language. Mary John talked about teaching it at the Catholic elementary school in Vanderhoof (the town nearest to Stoney Creek) in the 1970s. Why did it take the BC Ministry of Education another 50 years to create a curriculum for Dakelh? I openly expressed my frustration on this to my students. It’s interesting that there were some school administrators who understood the importance of preserving Dakelh language and traditions, but they were unfortunately few and far between.
We also went on a bit of a tangent talking about the situation in Palestine again, noting how many Indigenous groups around the world identify with the struggle. I showed a video and gave students a worksheet where they could share their honest thoughts, but I didn’t really push for a discussion. I’m honestly not too comfortable teaching on this topic.
In Chapter 16 of Stoney Creek Woman, Mary John talked a great deal about the Indian Act. UNBC professor Daniel Sims gave an excellent lecture to the Lheidli community where he outlines the Indian Act with a local focus. I will share that video with the class. It reaffirms much of what we’d covered, and it answers some of the questions that have come up in class. We’ll show that after we finish the questions for Chapter 16.
Chapter 17 talks about one of the early cases on the Highway of Tears, so we will begin our discussion on that topic.
This is the last week before Christmas break, so we will watch the National Film Board documentary “Reel Injun”. Mary John mentioned the fear some white people had of Indigenous people due to stereotypes from “cowboy and Indian” movies. I think it’s good to address that, and then look at Indigenous-produced films. We’ll also watch a TedTalk from an Indigenous actor from Prince George, Grace Dove.
Friday is the Condor Classic, our annual basketball tournament. Most students really look forward to this, so we will watch our teams play.
My principal told me about a conversation he’d had with a parent noting how their child was enjoying the class but found the content a bit heavy. Would I be able to talk more about culture and the arts? I appreciate the feedback, but I’d like to have been able to have a conversation with the parent. Either way, this week is a good opportunity to work on these ideas.
Students seemed to enjoy the lecture from Dr. Sims. To be honest, I’m a big fan. He’s one of the smartest people I know, and I always enjoy talking to him. In his lecture, he even discussed the family of one of my students!
I did not begin Chapter 17. I thought the content was too heavy and we wouldn’t have time to get into the topic as thoroughly as we need to. We thus watched “Reel Injun”, the lecture by Grace Dove, and followed with the Navaho production “Frybread Face and Me”. I think the students enjoyed this movie. I certainly did.
In the first week after Christmas break, we will begin working on the Dakelh language. There are some very good videos posted by our Indigenous Education Department. We will conclude with a worksheet on introducing yourself in Dakelh. Students can use this information on their final assignment, making a personal land acknowledgement incorporating at least one sentence in Dakelh.
I have already contacted the District Vice Principal in charge of language and culture a local elder to help teach Dakelh. I’ve never taught a language to a class that I didn’t know already!
After that, we will continue reading Stoney Creek Woman chapter 17 and 18, where Mary John talks about the death of Corine Thomas, one of the earlier cases on the Highway of Tears, which is Highway 16 between Prince George and Prince Rupert.
The students did not seem as into learning Dakelh as I’d hoped. I’m very thankful for the videos, however. I don’t know where I’d begin in teaching the language if I couldn’t do those exercises with the students.
The students seemed happy to get back to reading Stoney Creek Woman. We had a very good discussion about the Highway of Tears. I showed a video that Vice News had made on the topic several years ago. I honestly don’t like telling all of these horrible things to the students, but I know I’d be negligent if I did not tell them. Seeing the carnage in Gaza right now and experiencing the pain it causes me as an Arab helps me to relate to the pain my Indigenous students must be feeling.
We will start this week by going into further detail about the Highway of Tears. We will look at local actions and government initiatives to deal with it. In 2006 there was a parliamentary inquiry. They still have not brought cell phone service to the entire highway (as promised), but there is now bus service three times a week for only $5 to prevent people from hitchhiking. There was also a monument unveiled in September of 2022.
After that, we will continue reading and possibly conclude reading Stoney Creek Woman. I will also give students the “test” for the book, which will be similar to the other tests we’ve done in this course.
Finally, I will bring the District Vice Principal and an elder in to help students with their introductions in Dakelh. The students have questions I was not able to answer, and I have questions as well, so their help will be greatly appreciated.
This week went well. In addition to discussing the Highway of Tears, we talked about two local initiatives related to this, one being Moose Hide Day and the other being a local monument to the people lost on the Highway of Tears that was unveiled in September 2022.
Attendance was not great at the end of the week due to the cold weather, but the district vice-principal did come in to teach us about Dakelh and help us with our pronunciation.
This is the second to last week of class. We will finish reading Stoney Creek Woman on Monday and then I will give students time to work on the “test”. It will be due on Friday. On Wednesday, I will introduce the final assignment, creating a personal land acknowledgement that includes at least one sentence in Dakelh. We’ll work on that in class as well, and students can turn it in by the end of the week also.
Looking ahead to next week (our last week of class), we will have a circle where representatives from the Indigenous community join us for circle where we share our land acknowledgements.
Things went as planned this week. It is the end of the semester, so some students have lost a bit of focus, but overall things went very well.
In this our last week of class, we will finish our work on the Stoney Creek Woman test and our land acknowledgements (if students need the time). We will have a circle where representatives from the Indigenous community join us and we share our land acknowledgements on a day when they are available. I will also do a course evaluation with the students. If we have time, we will also watch the film the Grizzlies.
I am sad to see this course end. From first glance at the evaluations, it looks like the students enjoyed the course.
Sharing our land acknowledgements on the last day of class with our district Indigenous vice principal was very meaningful. The students really did a beautiful job. I was very proud of them! Students also started work on their land acknowledgements and I worked on mine as well. It felt good to work on my own land acknowledgement as well because I spoke about where my grandparents on both sides are from. I am grateful for both places and for who I am, but Lheidli is home for me.
Many things went well in the course, but I don’t know if my evaluation (my way of grading) was suitable for a senior level social studies course. Was it too easy? I don’t know. Does that matter a lot? I’m not sure either. We will be doing some pro-d on student evaluation as a staff in the new semester. Perhaps I will learn some helpful information so I can sit down and re-evaluate how I evaluate before I teach this course again.
Duneza’, Ts’ekeza’, Skuiza’,
For many thousands of years, the Lheidli T’enneh lived and thrived on this land. They hunted, fished, harvested food, traded furs, and were welcoming. Sadly, they were often treated unfairly in the last century, but this never stopped being their unceded territory and today they continue to thrive.
Gerry Chidiac suhutni. Stsoo Anna Döppert inle ‘unt’oh Mittelfranken ts’e hainya. Stsiyan Naim Chidiac inle ‘unt’oh Haleb ts’e hainya.
I have lived on four continents, and no place is more wonderful than Lheidli. This is where I live, work, and play. I love the space, the walking trails, the trees, and all the seasons, but especially the summers.
This is where I have found community. This is where I have brought up my family and this is where I call home. Words cannot express my gratitude to the Lheidli T’enneh.
I pledge to always tell the truth about this place. I pledge to respect the air, the water, the land, and all other inhabitants. I pledge to teach our young people about the history and the goodness that lies all around us, and I am forever grateful.
BC FIRST PEOPLES 12
1. Did you enjoy this course?
2. Were the academic expectations fair and clear?
3. Were the behavioural expectations fair and clear?
4. Would you recommend this course to other students?
1 in between
If you answered NO for question #4, please give your reason(s):
___0___ I find the work too difficult.
___0___ I do not like the teacher.
___0___ It is not as interesting as I expected.
__2____ Other (please specify)
-I only took this course because it was required.
-You need to take this course.
5. How has this course changed you or your views?
__11___ I am more aware of Indigenous issues.
__9___ I am more likely to promote truth and reconciliation.
__10___ I am more likely to speak out if I hear discriminatory comments.
__4___ Other (please specify)
-It gave me the moment to self-reflect on who I am, my background, and my values.
-I’ve learned more about how they got treated, and Native women’s rights.
-It didn’t change my views.
6. What is your best or happiest memory of this course?
-I really enjoyed voicing my opinions without feeling restraint and I enjoyed sharing things about my background.
-Getting to learn more about what Indigenous peoples went through and how horrible they were treated.
-Reading Stoney Creek Woman (x3)
-Getting to work on questions in groups and talk things over.
-My best memory of this course would have to be learning Dakelh.
-I don’t know.
-My favourite part of the course was connecting current world events to what was being learnt in class. There were times when I questioned the relevancy of what was being taught but then I felt genuine surprise when it connected so well to the material you gave out in class. I really enjoyed and gained a lot from this class.
-Being here with my friends.
-I really enjoy the topics that are taught in this class, especially Indigenous topics. I love learning about my culture. I also really enjoy drawing and writing for this class. I find this class comforting and enjoyable.
A highlight for me at the end of the course was an Indigenous Dad stopping me in the parking lot to thank me. The course meant a great deal to his daughter, he told me, and she feels inspired moving into her post-secondary studies next year. To me, that means everything.
It was also hard for me to teach this course while the people of Gaza were being massacred daily. The colonized, from Ireland to Africa, from Asia to the Americas, to Oceania, and back to the Middle East see themselves and their ancestors in the faces of Palestinians. In this moment, we are all Palestinian. We simply cannot turn away because our connection is too profound. When teaching this class, especially when Indigenous eyes were looking back at me, I found myself fighting back tears because the crimes of colonialism committed against them are the same crimes that are being committed in Gaza against my Arab family. We understand one another.