June is National Indigenous History Month

June is National Indigenous History Month. It’s an excellent opportunity to immerse yourself in the rich culture of Indigenous peoples. As we celebrate Indigenous history and diversity this month, we’re reminded of our commitment to honour and promote Indigenous people’s contributions, achievements and teachings all year long. 

At the Ottawa Catholic School Board, we’re committed to providing every student meaningful opportunities to learn about Indigenous peoples and participate in Indigenous-centred activities

Indigenous Languages are a critical aspect of Indigenous culture. To promote the preservation of Indigenous Languages around the globe, 2022 to 2032 has been proclaimed as the International Decade of Indigenous Languages by the United Nations General Assembly. You can learn more about the importance of Indigenous Languages in Canada in our National Indigenous Languages Day article.

Celebrating Indigenous culture and learning Indigenous history

Our Indigenous Education Department at the Ottawa Catholic School Board encourages everyone to celebrate Indigenous culture this month and throughout the year. They have prepared a variety of learning resources and Live Stream events that can be found on their Indigenous History Month website.

As we continue on our journey of learning about Indigenous history and culture in Canada, we’d like to highlight a few points offered by the First Nations, Metis & Inuit Education Association of Ontario (FNMIEAO) regarding engaging with Indigenous knowledge. Like any learning initiative or research, it’s important to ensure the sources you’re engaging with are credible. 

Here are some questions that FNMIEAO recommends you ask yourself when reviewing a new resource:

  • Are there Indigenous fluent language speakers involved?
  • Does the content tokenize or minimize the significance of Indigenous knowledge? 
  • Does it present Indigenous knowledge as ‘simplistic’? 
  • Do any Indigenous communities or people view the content or context as offensive? 
  • Is there an Elder or Knowledge Keeper facilitating the Indigenous knowledge component of the learning?
  • Does the Elder or Knowledge Keeper have lived experience with their community? 
  • Does it represent a wide variety of Indigenous peoples, diversity or knowledge, or does it essentialize people and knowledge? 
  • Has a relationship been developed with the local Indigenous community? 
  • Was permission given to incorporate or utilize the knowledge? 
  • Has the source of knowledge been cited, and the community from which it comes been disclosed? 
  • Are Indigenous people involved throughout the entire project? 
  • How does the project involve reciprocity?

Resources to help you embrace Indigenous History Month

The Gord Downie and Chanie Wenjack Fund are hosting four Live events throughout June to celebrate the diversity of Indigenous Peoples in Canada. These events are open to anyone living in Canada, and each day features Indigenous Elders, Knowledge Keepers, artists and allies from around our Country. You can celebrate Indigenous musicians by listening to the Downie Wenjack Indigenous History Month 2022 playlist on Spotify. This playlist features the performers featured in their upcoming live events.

You can register for the following events at the Gord Downie and Chanie Wenjack Fund website. 

  • Northwest Territories – June 8, 2022, at 2:00 pm 
  • Saskatchewan – June 15, 2022, at 2:00 pm
  • New Brunswick – June 22, 2022, at 2:00 pm
  • Canada – June 29, 2022 at 2:00pm   

Jesuit Forum shared a recording from their webinar called A Conversation with Educators on Listening to Indigenous Voices: A Dialogue Guide on Justice and Right Relationships. This video recording highlights themes related to leveraging Indigenous Voices in a school setting.

Here are some additional resources for students from Kindergarten to Grade 12:

This Indigenous Histories and Cultures Course Booklet can be downloaded for students in Grades 6 to 12.   

Every Child Matters

May 27th, 2022 marked one year since the unmarked graves at Kamloops Residential School were discovered. We mourn the loss of these innocent lives and pray for the survivors of residential schools across Canada, their families, and their communities. Together, we must rebuild our communities and support Indigenous culture so it can thrive. 

September 30, 2022, is National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. Canadians across our nation are preparing to wear orange to honour the victims of residential schools and raise awareness of this tragic and painful history. We encourage our community to purchase their orange shirts from an organization that supports orangeshirtday.org or an Indigenous-owned organization like Turtle Lodge Trading Post

If you’d like to take the time to learn more about the tragedy of residential schools in Canada, this educational resource shares the experiences of Métis residential school survivors.

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