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OISE, TCDSB partner for teacher symposium on FNMI education

 

By Jennifer Sipos-Smith

November 29, 2011

 

The Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) of the University of Toronto welcomed more than 100 teachers and administrators from the Toronto Catholic District School Board for a symposium on issues facing First Nations, Métis, and Inuit last week.

OISE Professor Suzanne Stewart of the Yellowknife Dene First Nation and the special advisor to the Dean on Aboriginal Education focused the learning outcomes for the day on respecting and honouring Indigenous culture in education in her opening remarks, and delivered a presentation on what education means for Indigenous peoples. The event marks the beginning of a multi-year Indigenous education research partnership between OISE and the TCDSB to better educate TCDSB students, faculty, staff, and administration on issues of Indigenous identity and culture within a Canadian context, and to increase the retention and success rates of TCDSB Aboriginal students.

Vince Citriniti, program coordinator of Curriculum and Accountability from the TCDSB, expressed the enthusiasm of the Board for “a greater integration of Aboriginal cultures into the curriculum.” OISE Dean Julia O’Sullivan welcomed participants on behalf of the University and shared, “how proud [OISE] is to partner with the TCDSB to ensure the success of Aboriginal students at all levels of education.” She added, “As Canada’s largest and most influential faculty of education, OISE has a special responsibility to lead in this area; to recruit and graduate Aboriginal teachers, and together with our Aboriginal partners, to respect and reflect the needs and educational aspirations of Aboriginal peoples.”

A highlight of the event was the opportunity for teachers to ask to questions, to directly interact with traditional cultural practices and to learn about Aboriginal history, spiritualty and education. Federico Andrejin, a grade 11 World Religion teacher at James Cardinal McGuigan Secondary School shared his learning from the event: “I have learned more about diverse Aboriginal perspectives and to how support these students and their communities in my classroom. This event gave me resources, narratives and networks that I can use to further that support.”

OISE is a leader in Aboriginal education and among the first Canadian faculties of education to prioritize Indigenous values and educational research following the signing of the Accord on Indigenous Education by the Association of Canadian Deans of Education (ACDE) in June 2010. The Accord was developed to create a respectful and inclusive education curriculum that reflects the needs of Aboriginal people.