The Limestone District School Board (LDSB) is looking to broaden its’ team of Indigenous community members making visits to schools in the area.
The initiative to bring community members to school to share Indigenous ways of knowing and being has been in place for the better part of a decade.
Scot Gillam, LDSB’s Superintendent of Learning for All and Indigenous Education, says the visits allow teachers to incorporate valuable education that may be foreign to them into the curriculum.
“There’s things that we want in our regular, everyday education that can be infused in there and really the best people to help support that are our Indigenous community members,” Gillam said.
The number of participating community members has grown year to year, and Gillam says since assuming this position with the LDSB a little over a year ago he has seen the number of Indigenous visitors grow exponentially.
Last year visits were limited to a virtual capacity, but will return to in person as public health restrictions allow.
In the past, Canadian education regarding Indigenous issues and history has been largely glazed over and pacified.
Gillam says he hopes the visits help students to get a thorough and unbridled understanding of the history and ongoing struggle of Indigenous people locally and throughout Canada.
“There’s really a hope that all students come to understand the truth,” Gillam said.
“We just had National Day of Truth and Reconciliation and Orange Shirt day so we want all students at their developmental level to understand what that means, the history of residential schools and intergenerational trauma.”
Gillam added that the inclusion of visits and other endeavours by LDSB can be a helpful tool to not let truth and reconciliation be reduced to one or two days a year.
As part of this process, schools are also asked to go through a referral process to make sure the appropriate individual from the Indigenous community can come in for the visit, and to ensure that it fits into a plan for continued education.
Gillam says this helps to make the visits an integral part of continued learning.
“This makes sure that we are not participating in one offs, we’re not having Indigenous community members come in to demonstrate a certain ceremony and then that’s it,” Gillam said.
Alongside the visits, there are professional development activities and resources put together for teachers in coordination with Indigenous knowledge holders including the support document “Getting to Know Turtle Island”.
Members of the Indigenous community who are interested in becoming a school visitor can contact Scot directly at firstname.lastname@example.org