Schools Receive Wampum Belts to Signify Indigenous Reconciliation
Principals representing all 102 schools at HWDSB received symbolic, beaded wampum belts Sept. 13 in a ceremony that highlighted the Board’s commitment to improve relationships with Indigenous people, knowledges and practices.
The Dish with One Spoon Wampum Belt, to be displayed at each school, represents a treaty relationship between the Haudenosaunee Confederacy and Anishnaabe with respect to sharing the land and resources therein.
Schools and departments will use the wampum as a teaching and learning tool, agreeing to keep it visible, accessible and safe for all to use; they may work with Indigenous staff or community members to broaden understanding and use of the wampum.
“Thank you for continuing to push us and lead us,” Director of Education Manny Figueiredo said at a meeting of principals. HWDSB accepted a wampum at the Board level in June, and has adopted a new community-vetted Land Acknowledgement that is said before meetings.
HWDSB’s commitment to Indigenous education emerges from a context that has seen Indigenous knowledge historically excluded and marginalized in Canada. Ontario has committed to working with Indigenous partners in education, with a focus on closing the achievement gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students.
In HWDSB’s new strategic directions, Positive Culture and Well-being is a top priority, so that student and staff well-being – and thereby achievement – is fostered through positive climate strategies and supportive relationships.
Director Figueiredo said that, on a personal level, it was his experience touring a former residential school with a survivor that opened his eyes to “how much I didn’t know about colonization.”
Learn more about Indigenous education at HWDSB by contacting:
- Sharon Stephanian, Superintendent of Equity and Well-being, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Geeta Malhotra, Principal of Student Success, email@example.com
- Lisa King, Indigenous Education Consultant, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Jolene John, Aboriginal Community Liaison, email@example.com