Superintendent Joe Maurice provided a sampling of the First Nation, Metis and Inuit (FNMI) initiatives that Algoma District School Board has undertaken.
Walking the Path is a program that teaches Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal youth about the history, beliefs and cultural traditions of Aboriginal peoples.
This program was developed and supported by the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) using Anishinaabe cultural teachings. The program promotes self-esteem, self-concept and respect for others and is designed to support youth in a safe, structured learning environment with planned learning initiatives.
Walking the Path is run over a ten week period and includes a review of character education virtues. It also provides opportunities for students to develop leadership skills and its strategies are linked to the Ontario curriculum from grades 1 to 12.
Running within the board since 2011, Walking the Path has been presented at various schools within the Algoma District School Board. It has been facilitated by trained Walking the Path facilitators from the Indian Friendship Center, staff here in Sault Ste Marie and our FNMI special assignment teacher, Carol Trudeau-McEwen.
Cultural Competency Training
In the past several years, ADSB and the Sault Ste. Marie Indian Friendship Centre (IFC) in partnership with the Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres, have provides our school communities with Cultural Competency Training.
The overall purpose of the training is to assist participants in acquiring basic demographic, historic, and cultural information about Aboriginal people in Ontario, with an emphasis on the impacts of education and learning on urban Aboriginal people. The training provides participants with the basic understanding of the impacts of historical and intergenerational trauma, Aboriginal education practices and priorities, and Aboriginal engagement practices which will lead to increased cultural competency.
To date training has been provided to ADSB Principals, Vice Principals, Senior Administration, School and Attendance Counselors and a diverse group of community partners including participants from a significant cross-range of organizations who work in justice, policing, child and family services, education, business and government.
Most recently, ADSB secretarial staff were offered the training as part of the February Professional Activity Day. Participants learned more about terminology and the language as well as aspects of educational history such as Indian residential schools. They examined culture and diversity and how their own cultural backgrounds can affect personal interactions.
Superintendent Maurice also spoke of the relationships that have been established between ADSB and our FNMI partners throughout the Algoma District. He reviewed our voluntary Self Identification numbers and described some of the efforts to increase the opportunities to access Native Language and Native Studies courses. ADSB schools have been purposeful in creating respectful and welcoming learning environments in our schools for our FNMI students which include cultural rooms, multi-lingual signage, murals and art and access to Aboriginal/Cultural Support Workers.