Seven Oaks School Division is shining a light on Canada’s history before colonization.
The division is hosting several truth-telling sessions, providing the community with an opportunity to learn about Canada’s history through Indigenous peoples’ point-of-view as part of its Canada 150 celebration.
"Walk a Mile in Our Moccasins: Truth and Reconciliation Training" looks back at the lives of Indigenous people in Canada before European contact. It walks people through the history of colonization and settlement, exposing the effects of the Indian Act and the relocation of First Nations to reserves that according to Rebecca Chartrand, SOSD lead for Aboriginal Education, "isolated and segregated them from the rest of Canada…and limited their participation in mainstream society."
"It (the training) brings all of us into the full of understanding why there’s so much tension between Indigenous peoples and the rest of Canadians," Chartrand said.
"It could be a very sensitive and controversial thing to think that we could celebrate Canada 150 without acknowledging Indigenous peoples because Canada could not have been settled without the signing of the Indian treaties."
University of Winnipeg’s Community-based Aboriginal Teacher Education Program (CATEP) students and SOSD educational assistants take adults and children through the basics of Indigenous teachings before Europeans come to Canada, following a script based on KAIROS Canada Blanket Exercise adapted to Manitoba’s geography. The script goes through the timeline of events that have happened since colonization — diseases, the reserve system, residential schools, the ’60s scoop and on to the present day. Every step in the activity illustrated the feelings Indigenous people may have experienced when their lands were taken, and they were separated from Canadian society.
Each person in the room fills a space on the blanket activity where the objects in the middle represent items that would have been utilized here prior to European contact. When a participant picks it up they are recognizing the skills and knowledge they carried in making these items. Participants are asked to trade goods using the long established economic system that existed prior to European contact. The idea is to trade goods and knowledge while building and maintaining good relations. Rather than looking to acquire wealth, the activity is meant to distribute well-being by ensuring people were sharing items they needed.
It ensures people understand the significance of the barter system and the value of individuals in the social system that served to provide for the collective as opposed to individuals.
"The point of this activity is to educate parents because this is what their children are learning right now, they are learning the real history now as opposed to when we went to school," Kelly Chinchilla, CATEP student, said on April 4 at Collicutt School. "It’s part of the reconciliation piece. A lot of First Nation people don’t feel a part of Canada."
"We’ve been silenced for so long. The true history was covered up. The truth is a really important part of reconciliation, and that’s part of moving forward."
SOSD will be having training sessions on Wed., April 12 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at O.V. Jewitt Community School; Thurs., April 20 from 5 to 8 p.m. at Amber Trails School; Thurs., April 27 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Maples Collegiate; Tues., May 2 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Seven Oaks Middle School; Wed., May 17 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at Arthur E. Wright Community School.