School Name: Ecole Christine Morrison Elementary
School District: SD#75 Mission
Inquiry Team Members:Inquiry Team Members: Judy Cathers (Aboriginal Cultural Worker); Lorien Osborn (Grade 2/3 Teacher, Aboriginal Mentor Teacher)
Contact Information: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Inquiry Team Contact Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Type of Inquiry: AESN (focus on Indigenous learners or Indigenous understandings)
Grade Levels: Primary (K-3)
Curricular Area(s): Language Arts – Oral Language
Focus Addressed: Aboriginal understandings (for example, Traditional Knowledge, oral history, reconciliation), Experiential learning, First Peoples Principles of Learning, Indigenous pedagogy
In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? Our focus will be to see if through the incorporation of Aboriginal Liaisons and Halq’emeylem Teachers students are learning more about First Peoples of Canada.
Scanning: Scanning: In order to reflect upon past levels of learning interaction amongst Aboriginal Liaison and Halq’emeylem Teachers with the students we reviewed the data from previous years (Student Connectivity Surveys completed by Aboriginal students and non-aboriginal students in 2016/17). After reflecting on the student’s responses, we found that students were not as engaged in the materials being delivered through curriculum taught in class regarding the learning of First Peoples of Canada. We decided that we would ask the students to reflect on the Aboriginal learning that took place through video interviews. We used four questions to judge the impact that the indigenous pedagogy has had on students through out the 2017/18 academic year.
Focus: Focus: We will start with the foundation of the Aboriginal Culture and the First Peoples Principles of Learning through the delivery of in class curriculum material as well as with the use of direct Halq’emeylem lessons by Halq’emeylem Teachers. Our hope is to continue to use the First Peoples Principal of Learning (Learning involves patience and time) as our guide as we continue to incorporate the BC curriculum which includes Aboriginal content in all subject areas.
Hunch: Hunch: With the help of the Aboriginal Liaison and Aboriginal Mentor Teacher school staff members continued to work to educate themselves with knowledge and practices of First Peoples of Canada. The Aboriginal Mentor teacher has taken time to inform teachers of websites and resources available to incorporate First Peoples Principles of Learning and indigenous pedagogy. The Aboriginal Liaison has worked in to encourage teachers to use Indigenous guest and presentations to strengthen the delivery of curriculum material in class. Halq’emeylem Teachers have increased their in class lesson delivery time in order to meet the need of more classrooms with in our school. We predict that this increase in staff development, along with the continued development of the new curriculum will result in an increase of students (Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal) that feel they learn about First Peoples of Canada.
New Professional Learning: New Profession Learning: School staff dedicated time to familiarize ourselves with the new curriculum and to collaborate routinely with colleagues, our school Aboriginal Cultural Worker, our Halq’emeylem Teacher, our Teacher-Librarians (CME and Siwal Si’wes) and with community elders and knowledge keepers (both in person and on the Greatspirithand.com website). New resources and learning opportunities where shared at bi-monthly staff meetings in dedicated Aboriginal discussion/update time made in the staff meeting schedule.
Taking Action: Actions taken this year:
– Ensure “Aboriginal” was placed on every staff meeting agenda, so information and resources were shared twice a month with all staff
– Offered weekly in-class instruction of the Halq’emeylem language by Halq’emeylem Teachers
– Started every assembly with a welcome song in Halq’emeylem, French and English sung by all students and staff
– Celebrate Orange Shirt Day and attended Orange Shirt Day March at Heritage Park with several classes.
– Celebrate “Rock your Mocs” day and honoured two students with genuine leather moccasins
– Celebrated the Stó:lõ New Year with traditional food and songs
– Aboriginal-based field trips to Grouse Mountain (hiwus feasthouse) and to Coqualeetza Longhouse in Chilliwack
– School wide Aboriginal Cultural Day – all students participated in different cultural workshops
– School wide Honouring our Elder Project – all classes met individually with local Elders, to hear stories and learn first-hand experiences
– Elder lunches – students were taught protocol of sharing a meal with a guest
– School wide art activity – Seven Sacred teachings – Love (represented by the eagle)
– School wide Aboriginal Running Club through Sports Med BC
– Continued to celebrate National Aboriginal Day
– Integration of new Aboriginal literature in all classes
– Salmon release program
– Math Catchers program
– Continued to improve the Cedar box garden project
– Continued the incorporation of countless cultural presentations in-class by Indigenous community members.
As students and staff continue to participate in various activities and celebrations, a deeper the connections to First Nations Culture is becoming part of the school culture.
Checking: Checking: We used the data from the survey given in the 2016-17 academic year (Mission School District Aboriginal Department) pertaining specifically to the results of one question regarding learning about Aboriginal Peoples of Canada (I am learning about Aboriginal Peoples of Canada). The previous years results indicated that 81% of students felt that they always or often learned about Aboriginal Peoples of Canada.
At the time , we acknowledged that certain parts of Aboriginal culture have become part of the school culture and tradition and therefore students do not see it as learning about Aboriginal Peoples of Canada. For example, singing the welcome song at assemblies, including Halq’emeylem in daily announcements, greeting liaison workers in Halq’emeylem and having First Nations literature as a part of their daily reading programs.
We decided that in order to get a better understanding of students perspective the questions asked needed to be more specific and reflect those aspects that would determine students’ level of interaction with the Aboriginal Principles of learning. In addition, the method for answering the questions needed to be more reflective and open to allow students to vocalize their knowledge in the subject. Therefore, intermediate grade students were given the task of conducting video interviews with students using the questions formulate by the Aboriginal Liaison and Aboriginal Mentor Teachers. The questions asked were:
1- What do you think of when you hear the word Halq’emeylem?
2- Can you say your Halq’emeylem name?
3- Can you say some words in Halq’emeylem?
4- What was this years animal represented in this years Seven Sacred Teaching and what does that animal represent?
The results of the interviews conducted showed significant knowledge retention by students. Answers to question 1, What do you think of when you hear the word Halq’emeylem, ranged in complexity based on students grade level and the amount of interaction they had with the Aboriginal Liaison and Halq’emeylem Teachers. Some noted responses include: “Halq’emeylem is the language of the Sto’lo People”, “… we learn Halq’emeylem with Peepta”, ” …the elders speak Halq’emeylem”. All students interviewed were able to say his/her Halq’emeylem name and at least two vocabulary words (Questions 2 & 3). Our last question was made as a way to compare the information gathered from the previous years study of Aboriginal culture in the school. Again we were surprised that not all the students understood the years focus on the Eagle and Love as part of the Seven Sacred Teachings. We surmise that the concept of Love and the Eagle are not being overtly related to the Seven Sacred Teaching as they are being taught the classroom lessons and activities rather the Seven Sacred Teaching are being incorporated in to learning about the Core Competencies and other curriculum related materials. We as a school community need to continue to work on integrating Aboriginal content into our classrooms.
Reflections/Advice: Reflection/Advise: Through this case study we learned that it is not the content of lesson and activities alone that are important but also how the material is delivered to students and reflected upon by students. With the guidance and support of local Elders, Aboriginal Liaisons and Halq’emeylem Teachers we have developed practices of traditional customs, which has led to a greater understanding and respect for First Nations culture amongst the school community. We advise further overt conversations happen in class about the importance of the Seven Sacred Teaching and the role they play daily in our school community as a way the identify the cultural significance to the learning taking place.