WELLINGTON COUNTY – June is National Indigenous History Month. Students, teachers and staff at the Upper Grand District School Board (UGDSB) recognize the month as a time to learn about and celebrate the rich and brilliant histories, cultures and futures of First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples.
The Indigenous Education department has created a calendar with daily activities, weekly topics and extension activities for educators focusing on the theme of celebration.
In-person activities planned include a session for Grades 7 and 8 students about Indigenous games and the history of lacrosse, taught by Dallas Squire.
Squire is a former professional lacrosse player, and the owner and operator of Onkwehonwe Games. He is of the Turtle Clan from Six Nations of the Grand River.
Inuk Knowledge Keeper Darlene Schaffer will be visiting schools to teach students about Inuit history and Inuit in the present day.
Métis musician Alyssa Delbaere-Sawchuk will share traditional fiddle music and teach elementary classes about Métis history.
There will also be a series of live-streams for kindergarten to Grade 12 classrooms throughout the month, including visits with Indigenous guests Isaac Murdoch and Shannon Paul.
Murdoch, also known by his traditional name, Bomgiizhik, is an internationally recognized artist, storyteller, and singer-songwriter who is of the Fish Clan and is Ojibway.
He is from Serpent River First Nation and had a traditional upbringing, hunting and gathering on the land. He currently lives at Nimkii Aashibikoong, an Indigenous community focused on language, art, and land-based activities.
Paul is an artist from Treaty 3, Northwest Angle #33 in Lake of the Woods, Ontario. She has experience working with children in counselling, crisis intervention, cultural enrichment and cultural teachings for young women.
Murdoch and Paul will be creating a mural at the new Indigenous and Land-Based Education Centre at Island Lake Conservation Area.
There will also be a visit from Tim McGregor, who is also known by his traditional name, Naokwegijig.
McGregor is a traditional Anishinabenini who has been involved with jiingtamok, or pow-wows, for many decades.
He has worked with the UGDSB as the Anishinaabemowin language nest teacher for Indigenous families for two years.
Teachers and other school staff will have the opportunity to participate in two professional development sessions during the month of June.
In the first session, happening on June 1, Grand River Métis Council president Jennifer Parkinson will lead a discussion on who the Métis are and how the Métis Nation came to be.
The second session, on June 12, will take primary educators through a new resource that embeds Indigenous Knowledges through problem solving and innovation.
Indigenous students and their families are also invited to a family night on June 7.