UCDSB celebrates National Indigenous History Month

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June 5, 2022 – The Upper Canada District School Board (UCDSB), which is situated on the traditional Anishinaabek and Haudenosaunee territories, has a deep connection with Indigenous education. As June is National Indigenous History Month, the UCDSB will be enhancing its focus on Indigenous education this month, providing schools across the District with additional opportunities to learn about and celebrate Indigenous peoples and culture. 

Age-appropriate classroom teaching and resources were provided to UCDSB educators, including the Strawberry Moon and Summer Solstice ceremonies. One particularly exciting opportunity for students in Grades 4 to 12 is a virtual celebration hosted by the Olympic gold canoe-kayaker and Canada’s Sports Hall of Famer, Alwyn Morris. 

Alwyn Morris, a member of the Turtle Clan from the Mohawk Nation of Kahnawake, has achieved tremendous success as a competitive canoe-kayak sprint athlete. His Olympic Gold medal performance in the 1000m Kayak Sprint Double in 1984 not only inspired a nation but also solidified his position as one of the most influential Indigenous athletes of all time.  

“We are excited to celebrate National Indigenous History Month and National Indigenous People’s Day with our students and educators,” says Kelty Grant, UCDSB Principal of Indigenous Education. “By providing resources and engaging activities, we aim to bring Indigenous perspectives into our classrooms and create a learning environment that fosters understanding, respect, and appreciation. Through initiatives like the virtual presentation by Alwyn Morris, we hope to inspire our students and promote a sense of pride in Indigenous heritage.” 

Another opportunity taking place this month is the fifth annual Spirit of the Drum Powwow being held June 10 and 11 on Duck Island in Smiths Falls. Smiths Falls District Collegiate Institute partnered with the Town of Smiths Falls to bring communities together to celebrate the rich culture of Indigenous peoples who live and work in our shared communities. The Powwow will include traditional dancing, drumming, singing, craft vendors and food. 

Classroom and at-home learning resources and activities related to Indigenous history and culture are posted to the UCDSB Virtual Learning Commons for anyone to use. 

Also, the UCDSB is also currently working on a Land Acknowledgement project, customizing formal recognition for each school and the traditional territories they are situated on. This is a year-long project that is in collaboration with Indigenous members of the community. 

“Providing Indigenous and non-Indigenous students alike access to rich and authentic programming about Indigenous culture and history is vital to ensuring we are being true to our commitment to Truth and Reconciliation,” says Chair of Board John McAllister. “I’m very proud of all we offer in this area and excited about where we are going.”

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