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OISE’s Robertson Program to co-host three-day conference focused on land-based learning and culturally-responsive teaching

Upcoming conference will give Indigenous and non-Indigenous educators, policy makers, and academics opportunities for collaboration

By Kaitlyn Balkovec

October 1, 2018

''At last year’s conference, attendees learn how to build a smokehouse for curing fish at Seven Generations’ annual Fall Harvest. (Photo courtesy of Zachary Pedersen)

For the second year in a row, three educational partners will come together to host an event with a common goal: to improve teaching within a framework of reconciliation and reciprocal learning.

The Robertson Program, housed at OISE’s Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study, is an initiative dedicated to helping students gain a deeper understanding of math and science. From October 2 to 4, the program is co-hosting a conference in Fort Frances, a town in northwestern Ontario located on Treaty #3 territory. It will give educators, policy makers, and academics an opportunity to experience land-based learning and culturally responsive teaching.

Reciprocal teaching and learning benefits both Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities

This year’s conference, titled Gaa-izhi-izhitwaawaad anishinaabeg: Culturally Responsive Teaching and Learning, is aimed at collaboration, rather than separation of community and school environments.

Recognizing that educators and leaders within both Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities bring their own set of knowledge and skills, the conference will provide a platform for attendees to form new relationships and learn from one another.

“This gathering brings together such a diverse group of educators and a unique blend of educational goals and interests,” says founding director of the Robertson Program Bev Caswell, highlighting what makes this conference so special. “The speakers as well as participants all have a similar goal of finding routes to reconciliation, and that’s what everyone is doing here.”

Conference plays a vital role in the process of reconciliation

In 2015, the report by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) put forth 94 Calls to Action, which included the need for a new commitment to education legislation with the full participation and informed consent of Indigenous peoples.

The conference is not only a way for attendees to learn about Indigenous knowledge as it relates to the classroom, but it also provides an opportunity to greater understand how non-Indigenous individuals can better support Indigenous students within their respected fields.

“It’s important for educators from across Ontario to actually visit an area where they can learn about the culture. It’s a huge part of the TRC,” says Aimee Beazley, First Nation Student Success Program teacher at Seven Generations Education Institute. “The relationship between Seven Gens, RRDSB and OISE, which began over five years ago, continues to grow strong— and we welcome the opportunity to invite more educators to Treaty #3 territory.”

About the event

Gaa-izhi-izhitwaawaad anishinaabeg: Culturally Responsive Teaching and Learning will be held from October 2-4, 2018 at Treaty #3 Territory, Fort Frances, Ontario.

This coincides with Dagwaaginimaawindoosijigewin (Fall Harvest), an annual event hosted by Seven Generations Education Institute.

The conference will include panel discussions, workshops, presentations, and keynote speakers.