Tag Archives: Mi’kmaq

What gets us worked up in education, and what doesn’t: The TRC and our schools

Today is the UN’s International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, which seems like as good an opportunity as any to write about what kids in schools learn about Indigenous issues here in Canada.


An incident in the last week of school this year underscored this issue for me. As a local education blogger, I’d been asked by a daytime radio show to comment on kids’ math and reading scores in our province. The interview came about because a council of local CEOs and other business-types had recently gone to the media with concern that some high school graduates’ math and reading skills seemed to have declined over the past few years.

Continue reading What gets us worked up in education, and what doesn’t: The TRC and our schools

Protocol for native/non-native meetings

Last week I received the following in a note from Cathy Gerrior, a.k.a. white turtle woman, a Mi’kmaw and Inuit woman in Northern Nova Scotia. Cathy asked me to spread this information widely with anyone who may be interested. Cathy is a counsellor for men who have been violent and was profiled in the January-February issue of This Magazine as a “social justice all-star.” 

Cathy Gerrior.
Cathy Gerrior.

The Idle No More movement brought Indigenous issues to the forefront of Canadians’ consciousness. Many non-native people in Canada expressed a desire to better get to know Indigenous people and issues. Cathy offers the following protocols as advice for those of us who seek to deepen the relationships between native and non-native people in Canada. These are also useful knowledge for teachers who invite Aboriginal people as guest speakers to their schools. I’m grateful for these teachings and glad to be able to share them here.  

Native Protocol

Dear reader. Kwe. i am white turtle woman. i would like to take this opportunity to offer some reflections based on my observations and experiences as a native woman living and working in the dominant society of what is called “Canada” that doesn’t always understand or appreciate my nativeness. Continue reading Protocol for native/non-native meetings

Treaty Day: a part of all our history

It’s Treaty Day in Nova Scotia, a day marking the Peace and Friendship treaties signed in the 1700’s between the Mi’kmaq people and the occupying British crown.

Treaty Day
Mi’kmaq Youth in the Treaty Day parade, 2012. (Photo: novascotia.ca)

Treaty Day parades and celebrations are led by the Mi’kmaq community, but it’s important for non-Natives in this province to mark the occasion as well.  Continue reading Treaty Day: a part of all our history

On teaching Aboriginal history to non-Aboriginal students

Last week I gave a webinar presentation called “Aboriginal history is everyone’s history” for Canada’s History, a society that promotes Canadian history education. The goal of the webinar was to highlight the idea that all Canadians, not just Aboriginal people, have the responsibility of teaching and learning about the history of Aboriginal people in Canada.

Here in Nova Scotia, many non-Native students choose to take Mi’kmaq Studies 10 to get their high school Canadian Studies credit. How can non-Indigenous teachers teach this course to these students in a way that is respectful and culturally appropriate?

You can see a recording of the webinar here. Below is a transcript of the presentation, edited for easy reading.

Continue reading On teaching Aboriginal history to non-Aboriginal students

This is about facing, not defacing history

Photo taken from facebook.com/deejayndn
Photo taken from facebook.com/deejayndn

[The party held for John A. MacDonald’s 199th birthday last weekend and consequent outrage expressed via the #SirJAM hashtag, along with the push to name more things after Sir John A., have given me an excuse to re-publish this piece from a couple of years ago about the re-naming of Cornwallis Junior High School. (The school ended up being re-branded “Halifax Central Junior High.”)

To make it more current, you could substitute “Cornwallis” with “MacDonald” and “put a bounty on Mi’kmaq scalps” with “deliberately starved Indigenous people of the Prairies,” and so on; the idea is the same. While there are still lifetimes of work for settlers to do in terms of redress for the calamities of colonialism, it’s good that conversations about historical memory are at least starting to happen.  Continue reading This is about facing, not defacing history