We are heartbroken, hurt, and angry about the discovery of the remains of 215 children on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School on the territory of the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation on May 27, 2021. Our hearts are with the Survivors and their loved ones, who have always known what we have all just had confirmed. We mourn the loss of their children and grieve with their families and for all the children who are still missing and yet to be found. We stand together with and lift up Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc in their time of grief. Pulling together has never been more important.
At BCcampus, we have been incredibly lucky to receive teachings from many generous Indigenous educators, and our hearts are also with them and their communities.
We are taking time as a group and as individuals to honour the children with the dignity and respect they were not afforded by their so-called caregivers.
For many, this is the beginning of a journey of unlearning and learning. We are here to support those people, as well as those who have already been engaged in the work of decolonizing their own minds and our post-secondary system. We are more focused than ever on ensuring our work supports Indigenous people, particularly students.
BCcampus acknowledges the səl̓ilwətaɁɬ təməxʷ (Tsleil-Waututh), Skwxwú7mesh-ulh Temíx̱w (Squamish), xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), and W̱SÁNEĆ (Saanich) Peoples and the Esquimalt and Songhees Nations of the Lək̓ʷəŋən (Lekwungen) Peoples on whose traditional territories we are privileged to live, work, and play. Through our work we are learning to incorporate Indigenous epistemologies into our actions and understandings, supporting decolonization, reconciliation, and Indigenization to advocate systemic changes in the post-secondary environment of B.C.
What are your responsibilities as a citizen and as a professional educator in the B.C. public post-secondary system?
“Together, Canadians must do more than just talk about reconciliation; we must learn how to practice reconciliation in our everyday lives – within ourselves and our families, and in our communities, governments, places of worship, schools and workplaces. To do so constructively, Canadians must remain committed to the ongoing work of establishing and maintaining respectful relationships.”(Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, 2015, 21)
The goal as citizens and educators is to decolonize our thinking and our actions. Educators have a great deal of power and agency to make choices that affect thousands of students over a career – choices about course curriculum, policies, assessment, technologies, and their own behaviours and approaches to facilitating learning.
The first and ongoing action is your own deep listening and active pursuit of learning about Indigenous Peoples and histories. And there are specific things you can do as an educator. If you are non-Indigenous, don’t rely on your Indigenous colleagues, friends, and acquaintances to help you navigate your own learning and feelings.
Here is a list of resources and actions you can take
Learn whose land you’re on, and write a personal land acknowledgement:
- Action for teaching: Give a personal land acknowledgement before each class.
- Resources: The Canadian Association of University Teachers provides a list of all institutions across Canada, and native-land.ca provides territory information from across Canada. Indigenous Corporate Training offers information on why it’s important to offer land acknowledgments.
Learn about residential schools in Canada:
- Action for teaching: Understand that the residential school system is not part of history; it has lasting impacts on intergenerational survivors and the education system. Seek out learning about trauma-informed communication and trauma-informed practice such as FLO Friday: Teaching with a Trauma-Informed Lens and FLO Course: Trauma-Informed Teaching
- Podcast: Residential Schools
- UBC Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre
- List of residential schools in Canada, with locations, dates they opened and closed, and which religious denomination operated the school
- Excerpt from Residential Schools section of the Pulling Together Foundations Guide
Learn about Indigenous histories in Canada:
- Actions for teaching: Engage and collaborate with Indigenous peoples, knowledges, and cultures in your course design and curriculum.
- Sign up to take Indigenous Canada, a Massive Open Online Course from the University of Alberta.
- Read: Indigenous History Month Reading List from Massey Books
- Indigenous Ally Toolkit, compiled by Dakota Swiftwolfe and others from the Montreal Indigenous Community Network
Learn about decolonizing your course materials and teaching practices:
- Actions for teaching: Learn and integrate First Peoples Principles of Learning into your work as a designer and facilitator of learning experiences for all students.
- The BCcampus Pulling Together Indigenization guides include a foundations guide as well as guides for teachers, leaders and administrators, front-line staff, curriculum developers, and researchers.
- Indigenous Pedagogy: Decolonizing Higher Education resource from Vancouver Community College
- Consider adopting one or more of these 100 Ways: Indigenizing & Decolonizing Academic Programs.
Provide counselling and supports:
- Action for teaching: Provide your students with information about supports and services available at your institution and from the Indian Residential School Survivors Society as resources they can use for counselling, healing, and crisis support.
Familiarize yourself with relevant federal policies and foundational documents:
- United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
- Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to Action
- Highlight calls 71–76 (Missing Children and Burial Information)
- Highlight calls 6–12 (Education)
- Highlight calls 57, 62.2, 24, 28
- Reclaiming Power and Place: The Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls
- Treaties and agreements in Canada
- The Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples concerns government policy with respect to the original historical nations of this country.
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