By responding to this National Challenge, we can move closer towards reconciliation with Indigenous peoples in Canada

Imagine what we can achieve as a country if we start having conversations with our children about Indigenous peoples in Canada and about reconciliation at an early age.  Imagine if they learn about the impacts of colonization, the legacy of the residential school system, and the resulting inter-generational trauma.  Imagine if they learn about living conditions on First Nations reserves and the reality that many of these communities do not have clean water to drink.  Imagine if we can teach them about the culture, perspectives, teachings and traditions of Indigenous peoples in Canada, as well as their incredible contributions throughout history, including before first contact with Europeans.  Imagine if we can teach our children all of this and then provide them with actions they can take to help make things better.

I believe that if we can do this, then when our awesome world-changing kids become the future leaders and decision makers, they will approach all these issues with kindness, compassion and empathy.  They will come up with policies and solutions that are inclusive of Indigenous peoples in Canada.  They will come to these decisions with a better understanding and in true collaboration with Indigenous peoples in Canada.  They will be motivated to want to make things better.

In my efforts to learn more and do better with respect to reconciliation with Indigenous peoples in Canada, I am so excited to be following and learning from Màmawi Together.  I hope you will join me on this learning journey.


What is Màmawi Together?

Màmawi Together is a community ‘grassroots’ based reconciliation initiative, with a priority focus on youth, working to bring Indigenous awareness and reconciliation initiatives to life across Canada.

Màmawi Together has launched the Youth for Reconciliation Movement and the National Challenge.  The goal is to “raise awareness, increase engagement, and empower positive action in our schools and communities that will bring us closer to real society equity and justice” with Indigenous peoples in Canada.


How Can We Respond to the National Challenge?

We can respond to the National Challenge by undertaking a Legacy Reconciliation Project at our school.  These Legacy Reconciliation Projects are to be annual and ongoing reconciliation commitments and activities that will have long-lasting, meaningful impacts in increasing Indigenous awareness and education in schools.  They will provide an opportunity for students to participate in reconciliation and help create more inclusive, caring and equitable communities.

Màmawi Together has come up with a great mini toolkit with Legacy Reconciliation Project Ideas which you can read in full by clicking here.


Two Legacy Reconciliation Projects Further Explained

Màmawi Together held their second Youth for Reconciliation Community Day on May 24, 2018, which I attended with my son’s class.  After a morning of workshops, all the students from all the schools in attendance came together to discuss in detail what we would commit to doing through our school as our Legacy Reconciliation Project.  Each school took some time to brainstorm about this with our students.  From the list of Legacy Reconciliation Project Ideas, our students selected two projects we would like to undertake next year – I still have to run these by our Principal, but I am hopeful he will be OK with them!

  1. Orange Shirt Day Acknowledgements & Commemorations (September 30)

The awesome students in my son’s class decided that they would like to hold an assembly next year about Orange Shirt Day.  Orange Shirt Day is held on September 30 each year to “raise awareness about the harm the residential school system did to children’s sense of self-esteem and well-being, and as an affirmation of our commitment to ensure that everyone around us matters”.

You can follow the Orange Shirt Day Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/orangeshirtdayeverychildmatters/

One student in particular took an interest in this.  She suggested that we hold the assembly the day before Orange Shirt Day so that everyone knows why they will be wearing their orange shirts the following day.  I thought that was such an absolutely amazing idea.  I told her that she will be the student lead to help me get this going at the school and that we will have to start as soon as we return to school in September to be ready for it.  She was very proud to have been assigned this responsibility.

  1. Culling & Updating the School Library

From Màmawi Together’s Legacy Reconciliation Project Ideas list: “It is important that we are no longer sharing books with children that hold onto racist terms, or incorrect stereotypes, or which only tell the settler story while ignoring the rich contributions of our Indigenous peoples, their perspectives and histories.”

With a team of student and adult volunteers, and under the guidance of an Elder, Indigenous parent or community member, we will look through the books in our library.  We will remove the books that do not meet the criteria listed in the Legacy Reconciliation Project Ideas document.  Then we would work towards adding books to our library that help our students learn more about Indigenous peoples in Canada in a positive way.

One of the other students in the group took a special interest in this project.  So I told him that he would be the student lead working on this one with me.  He was also very proud to have been assigned this responsibility.


After we discussed these two projects amongst ourselves, we had to present our ideas to the whole room – a room full of other students from other schools.  I introduced our school, introduced our ideas, but then let the two lead students further explain what we wanted to do.  These two students stood up in front of the big group and spoke confidently about our proposed projects.  What an amazing leadership development opportunity for them!

I was so happy that we were able to be involved in Màmawi Together’s second Youth for Reconciliation Community Day.  I want to ensure that our school is able to work with Màmawi Together in all their future initiatives.