Our Spirits Soar 

 Responding to the TRC's Calls to Action for Early Childhood Classrooms 

Photo Credit: Marion Billings. "Kokum's trapline". I am front and center running with my cousins and sister at my Kokum's trapline.

Tân'si

Welcome! The name of this website "Our Spirits Soar" was inspired by Chief Dan George's book of poetry "My Spirit Soars". This book of poetry has inspired me over the years, and it is my hope that this website will inspire and empower you to help all students' spirits soar. 
 
This website is my attempt to centralize information about Aboriginal culture, history, and education in Saskatchewan to make it easier for everyone who is interested in learning and doing more. This is a gathering site, where we can build and develop the site together, and I invite you to share your lesson plans, thoughts, ideas, and struggles on the blog or by e-mail. Please feel free to browse and if you have any information you would like me to add or clarify, please let me know. 

Why this topic is important and relevant today

Canada’s history regarding the education of Aboriginal children has not been a bright one.Colonialism and residential schools have had a long lasting negative effect on Aboriginal people in Canada and its impact can still be felt to this day (Hare, 2012; Greenwood, Leeuw, & Fraser, 2007). In 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) released the “Truth and Reconciliation Commission: Calls to Action” document in order to address the dark history of residential schools and how it has impacted Aboriginal people in Canada.  This document includes calls to action in terms of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis language and education.

There are three calls to action on which my capstone project addresses.  The first call to action is to “develop culturally appropriate early childhood education programs for Aboriginal families” (TRC, 2015, p. 2).  The second is “Sharing information and best practices on teaching curriculum related to residential schools and Aboriginal history” (TRC, 2015, p. 7).  Lastly, the third call to action is  “Building student capacity for intercultural understanding, empathy, and mutual respect” (TRC, 2015, p. 7).

 

This website is my response to the call to action to share information and best practices on teaching young children about Aboriginal history and culture.

Vygotsky’s (1978) socio-cultural theory situates the child in a social and cultural context in which development takes places (Edwards, 2003; Fleer, 2002; Sanchez, 1999). Socio-cultural theory acknowledges the importance of interactions and relationships, positioning the child’s family context and culture as a central part of a child’s education and development (Ntuli, Nyarambi, & Traore, 2014; Sanchez, 1999).

 

When viewing socio-cultural theory from an Aboriginal pedagogical perspective, we find that socio-cultural theory shares the same beliefs about the connectedness of children to their families and culture, and how learning and development takes place within this connectedness and relationships with others.  It is through this understanding of how socio-cultural contexts affect child development and learning that I approach my project on incorporating Aboriginal pedagogy into early childhood classrooms and curriculum.

Image Source: Image Source: Library and Archives Canada PA-182246

Image Source: Library and Archives Canada no.3247947

Purpose and Significance of this Project

This website is one of the outcomes of my capstone project, as required by the UBC M.Ed. program.  My capstone project focused on Aboriginal pedagogy which included a review of the literature exploring what Aboriginal pedagogy is, and its different aspects including  place-based education and Social and Emotional Learning (SEL).  Through this review I identify and provide resources of knowledge and theory about Aboriginal pedagogy. My hope is that this website will guide Saskatchewan early childhood educators who wish to incorporate Aboriginal pedagogy into early childhood curriculum. 

 

Considering the dearth of resources available for early childhood educators, the anticipated significance of my project is that educators will have a better understanding of how to implement Aboriginal pedagogy in the curriculum. This project offers theoretical frameworks and knowledge for early childhood educators to begin implementing Aboriginal pedagogy into curriculum or programs. Educators will also have access to more resources online through this website.

 

Given that Aboriginal children are the fastest growing demographic in Saskatchewan, and the TRC (2015) has called for culturally relevant early childhood programs, the question guiding my investigation is

 

“What are ways in which Aboriginal pedagogy can be implemented into early childhood (Pre K – K) programs in Saskatchewan?”