School Name: Ladysmith Secondary School
School District: SD#68 Nanaimo-Ladysmith
Inquiry Team Members:William Taylor (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Verna (Mandy) Jones (email@example.com)
Brenda Kohlruss (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Inquiry Team Contact Email: email@example.com
Type of Inquiry: AESN (focus on Indigenous learners or Indigenous understandings)
Grade Levels: Secondary (8-12)
Curricular Area(s): Applied Design, skills & Technology, Arts Education, Social Studies
Focus Addressed: Aboriginal understandings (for example, Traditional Knowledge, oral history, reconciliation), Community-based learning, Experiential learning, First Peoples Principles of Learning, Indigenous pedagogy, Land, Nature or Place-based learning
In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? How can experiential learning encourage greater understanding between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students?
Scanning: We looked at how our Indigenous learners were connecting with programs offered at our school. We held focus groups to determine how to connect learners to our school community. We listened to Coast Salish elders to determine an appropriate learning program. We then developed an experiential process, grounded in traditional Coast Salish teachings, which we offered to our students and school community.
Focus: We picked traditional Coast Salish understandings in order to honour the traditional territory within which we live and learn. We were hoping to connect our learners to place and to the teachings, wisdom, and language of that place through fibre work.
Hunch: We felt that bringing traditional practices into our school would create a better sense of belonging.
New Professional Learning: We met with Coast Salish elders and wisdom-keepers as we began, and continued, our work with fibres. As we learned to process fibre, we we introduced to many teachings around Coast Salish weaving and its cultural importance. Our ‘reconciliation’ blanket will serve as a symbol of what we are learning together, and as a living artefact as we move forward in our community work toward truth and reconciliation. We offered professional in-service to our colleagues both within our school and within our district.
Taking Action: We worked “nutsumaat.” That is, we worked together, in a relationally accountable way. Speak to be revealed. Listen to be changed. In this non-hierarchical structure, we were better able to listen to one another, and to hear the teachings brought to us. It is this commitment to working together as one which helped us move forward toward greater understanding.
Checking: We are creating a living artefact. Our attention to honouring the cultural practices of local Coast Salish peoples helped us to create a more welcoming environment in our school. Elders and community members began to come into our building to engage with our work. This is one of the greatest measures of our success. As the community brought teachings, we grew richer in our understanding. Our learners connected with us and with community members as we learned about our experiential learning, our connection to it, and the interconnection of the work and our larger educational goals. Each of us has a learning spirit. This spirit can be awakened in many ways. Work with fibres, and with storytelling, is a powerful way to connect heart and mind.
Reflections/Advice: We learned that by using traditional Coast Salish teachings, we honour the language and the land of the people who have lived here for thousands of years. In this way, we can bring medicine into our building, and work which will lift our students up. We can share in the strength of traditional teachings, and in the gathered skills and abilities of our team. We learned to be open to the world view of indigenous people, and to be of good heart and mind (uy shqwalawun). We learned that we can connect through shared experiences and work. We can work together to greater understanding. huy’ch’qa