Why Indigenous Studies at MCS?

MCS teachers are planning creative cross-curricular Project Based Learning units on the theme of Indigenous Studies. You may wonder why this topic was chosen. Our Native Peoples of Canada are often highlighted in the media and a requirement of the Ontario Ministry of Education is to teach Indigenous Studies at each grade level. While we as an independent school can choose to follow the MOEd requirements, our Programme Committee supports teaching about our Indigenous People to all our students for a variety of reasons. You will read many of these reasons is the following posts from our teachers.

Venturing into Indigenous studies was something I really had limited prior knowledge about apart from things I had heard about on the news and from social perceptions. As I ventured into understanding the history and culture of the Indigenous people, my heart broke for them, their past and the norms for these people even today. As I began to scratch the surface of understanding this culture and people, it became evident that the history and the culture of the Indigenous people is an important and integral part of our history that the younger generations need to study and understand for themselves. Jesus was not partial in His time on this earth and, in fact, reached out intentionally to those who were most misunderstood. I believe that understanding and loving those that may be seen as different from us opens up opportunities to see that we all share similarities, allowing us to love the Indigenous people with greater understanding and allows us to shine the light of Christ to all people no matter who they are and where they are from. Thus, emulating the life of Christ here on this earth. Written by Lisa Spence who teaches part-time in our grade 1/2 classroom.

How can we effectively fulfill Christ's Great Commission - to go out into all the world and make disciple of all nations - without an awareness of the 400 years of trauma that Indigenous nations have suffered from the hands of so-called Christians? Trust can only be rebuilt through respectful listening and rebuilding relationships. Regretfully, the Canadian History that most of us adults have been taught is overwhelmingly presented from the viewpoint of the winners of colonial invasion… we are unaware of so much. Most importantly, the lessons we must learn and teach our children involve the present reality that Indigenous, fellow image-bearers of God experience here in Canada. We are charged by God to fight for the rights of the vulnerable and to be generous. Such a huge mission field lies right at our doorstep.
"If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth." 1 John 3:17
"Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward them for what they have done." Proverbs 19:17
Written by Cheryl MacMillan our part-time grade 1/2 teacher.

Stories! Most people enjoy a good story either in print or listening to one. Stories can be fiction, but when we tell stories about ourselves, it is always something we have experienced...something in the past. We share those stories with each other, our children, grandchildren and as teachers...students. Stories remind us of lessons learned, adventures taken, or pain experienced. 

Canada has a story as well. The story is rich with lessons learned, adventure and pain. We have a responsibility to share these stories (history) with our students. It is essential that they learn the significance of our Indigenous neighbours and their part of the story of Canada. I am excited to make connections with our Indigenous neighbours and hope that you, too, may join in this connection at some point. Just think...our children will be sharing their story as they mature and wouldn't we desire for them to tell Canada's story from a point of view that demonstrates respect and acceptance of Indigenous People as fellow image bearers of Christ?
Written by our grade 3/4 homeroom teacher, Alice Peddie.

Why is MCS developing a curriculum of study focusing on Canadian First Nations peoples? As a citizen of a country, it is important to know about the Indigenous peoples. As a christian, we know that every person is made in the image of God. We may not agree with items of culture a group treasures, but we can be educated about them to gain an appreciation to see from their point of view. The best way to achieve this is to learn as a child. 

As Christians, we are called to truth. Through the Holy Spirit, we need to be self-assessing. “What biases do we carry; what learning do we need to do to better understand the true history of the country?” Topics will be discussed in an age-appropriate manner. Talking honestly about hard things in a way kids can understand helps open a door to the empathy that’s part of being a decent human being.

Although we have significant differences and views on spiritual matters, it is important to gain an appreciation for their history and what they view as significant to the culture. We are called as Christians to love and so see each person as a child of God. Learning and appreciating, while not necessarily imitating is an important step toward achieving this goal.

There is a major focus in our society on reconciliation. As Christians, we should be not shrinking in the background. Education and discussing the “hard topics” through a Biblical perspective is vital to each child today.

A great article from McLeans is linked below: https://www.macleans.ca/society/why-our-kids-need-to-learn-about-residential-schools/

Written by Roger King our grade 5/6 homeroom teacher.

Who is my neighbour? As God’s children, for whom are we responsible in issues of justice and mercy? Christ teaches us that neighbourliness is showing love for anyone in need who is within our reach. Canada’s Indigenous people are our neighbours. Our government is stymied knowing how to fix the Indigenous people problem that sits in our proverbial backyards. We have offered apologies, given residential school compensations and passed over plenty of tax dollars, yet the problem remains. Why do so many of our Indigenous people fare so poorly, not only in our cities but equally so on their reserves? Why are so many Indigenous girls and women going missing? Why the high rates of alcoholism and suicide? What is this PTSD that lingers through the generations? If we assess a society by how it treats its most disadvantaged, we Canadians are sorely wanting. By every measurable indicator, the Aboriginal population in Canada is treated worse and lives with more hardship than the African-American population in the United States. On our doorstep, sits a neighbour in need. We as Christians, need to inform ourselves and teach our children that something is wrong. We need to look to the Lord to use us to be instruments of His peace, to be used by Him to sow love where there is hatred, where there is despair, hope, and where there is darkness, light. To be informed and to inform our children is the first step to breaching the divide between we Euro-Canadians and Canada’s Indigenous people. To effectively construct change in our country and to reach the darkness of the lost with the light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we need to know the people. Let’s join our children in learning the ways of the First Nations and let us look to the Lord to use us to bring light to the Indigenous people who are made, like us, in the image of the one true God.  Janet Davis, the author, is our grade 7&8 homeroom teacher.

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