NNDSB Taking Steps On Path To Truth And Reconciliation

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photo courtesy of NNDSB Facebook Page.

Near North District School Board (NNDSB) recognizes it has a role to play in truth and reconciliation. As outlined in the 94 Calls to Action that act as way finders – concrete steps to move forward in acknowledging the truth of Canada’s history with Indigenous Peoples – there is a role for education in the difficult and uncomfortable work of reconciliation.

It is imperative that the board climbs the mountain as requested by the Commission.

The path to truth and reconciliation will be slow and painful, but the steps must be taken. The Board of Trustees has proactively acknowledged this, and endeavours to be part of the change. In addition to opening meetings with a land acknowledgement, Board meetings now open with a prayer from an Elder. The Indigenous Trustee, elected by members of the First Nations to represent them on the Board, is actively consulted and her input valued in decision-making on issues that affect Indigenous students.

As an institution, NNDSB is taking steps in response to the Calls to Action, including:

  • working to eliminate educational gaps between Indigenous and non-Indigenous children (have staff positions to support Indigenous families in education)
  • on-going consultation with First Nations communities regarding new capital builds to ensure Indigenous students feel welcome and represented in NNDSB schools
  • offering Indigenous language classes to all interested students at 12 schools
  • formation of an Indigenous Youth Advisory Circle with membership of up to two students per secondary school. Once formed, the Youth Circle will determine a process for nomination and selection of an Indigenous Student Trustee to the Board
  • providing resources and building capacity to support all staff and students in understanding Indigenous history, culture, perspectives, and ways of knowing
  • encouraging and supporting non-Indigenous staff who want to take a First Nation, Metis and Inuit Additional Qualification course
  • partnering with Anishinabek Education System (AES) to place two full-time cultural advisors/knowledge keepers in schools on a regular basis
  • successful AES pilot project applicant to be one of five boards in the province to provide cultural competency training to administrators

The federal government has legislated Sept. 30, 2021 as the first National Truth and Reconciliation Day. NNDSB wants the day to be acknowledged in a way that is

most appropriate and meaningful to members of the eight First Nations that are NNDSB community partners, and other Indigenous Peoples in our schools. Schools have been given the flexibility to provide community-relevant programming.

The legacy of residential schools weighs heavy in the hearts of survivors and their families, who have been subjected to 200 years of colonization and systemic discrimination. NNDSB will continue to climb the mountain and strive to do better.

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