Sharing our Story and Learning from Others at Indspire National Gathering
On November 13 and 14, 2015 the Indspire National Gathering took place in Calgary. This annual conference focuses on Indigenous education and is an opportunity for educators to share and work together on improving academic outcomes for Indigenous students. This year’s theme was on holistic education, including the mental, emotional, physical and spiritual needs of youth.
The SCI team led two presentations at the conference – one general presentation on ELI and how we use Seasonal Learning Wheels, and a workshop presentation by Athabasca Delta Community School (ADCS) and ELI team members on how the school’s land-based learning journey. In both presentations, the audience were very engaged and the rooms were packed with 50-60 people in each. Our presentations spurred some great discussion including:
- Sharing what it means to walk in two worlds
- Questions about how this model can spread to other areas, especially Fort McMurray schools, where many students from surrounding communities attend high school
- Discussion on ways to connect traditional and land-based activities with the curriculum; as Rosalind wisely pointed out, “As a teacher, I have a choice: my students can learn to count blocks, or they can learn to count fish.”
Our team also came away with lots of new resources, ideas and inspiration from programs around Canada. We asked each member to talk about one presentation they were Indspired by:
Chantale: “I would highlight Actua and their STEM program out of Ottawa. They help teachers integrate science and math with Indigenous experiences and are looking for an Alberta pilot opportunity. I’m planning to learn more and will share what I hear.” For more information on Actua's STEM program, check out this webinar.
Mike: “I went to a session and they had some really cool stuff for engineering for youth. This is something we should plan for the coming year. The engineering program has an Indigenous approach to engage youth and helps them prepare for engineering in University. This would be one of the best ways to council youth for careers. The presenters mentioned Grades 7-9 are the best grades to start approaching youth interest.” Stacey and Tori also went to this session and were excited to come away with a great birch bark canoe resource relating to Indigenous knowledge and science/engineering. Sekweha is doing a birch bark camp in early 2016 with Father Perin School. Resources from this presentation:
Stacey: “I attended the Peer Support: Education Mentorship presentation, and I think it is a great resource for any teacher in an Aboriginal community, whether they are at the beginning, middle or twilight of their career.” For more information on Indspire’s mentorship programs: https://indspire.ca/for-educators/mentorship/