ETFO initiatives highlight FNMI education in Ontario

By Rachel Mishenene
June 20, 2016

In September 2014, the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) hired a full-time permanent executive assistant with extensive knowledge of First Nations, Metis, Inuit (FNMI) issues with responsibility for Aboriginal education. Since then a number of FNMI initiatives have been undertaken to provide professional learning opportunities and resources to support the learning of our membership, and to promote FNMI member engagement. Liaising with FNMI members, allies and the broader FNMI community is an important component to developing culturally relevant and appropriate FNMI education resources and programming. The following highlights some work that we have been doing at ETFO in FNMI education.

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Professional learning opportunities for our members and local leaders include workshops and online learning forums, such as Infusing Aboriginal Perspectives into Mathematics, Science and Literacy; Deconstructing Stereotypes of Aboriginal People; Engaging Aboriginal Families and Communities; an Aboriginal education symposium for ETFO Members; two FNMI online book clubs; and two truth and reconciliation webinars. ETFO also has an online additional qualification course, Teaching FNMI Children. Additionally, ETFO provides FNMI workshops for pre-service teachers at the request of Ontario faculties of education.

FNMI resources have been developed for educators, including Aboriginal History and Realities in Canada (2015), a K-8 teacher’s resource; the ETFO FNMI Statement (2015) poster; and an FNMI Growth Chart (2016) highlighting 27 FNMI children’s books (K-8). These three resources are available for purchase through our website. This summer, the following resources will be available: one-page literacy prompt sheets to complement the Growth Chart; Engaging FNMI Learners teacher’s resource; a poster celebrating 21 inspirational FNMI women; and an online interactive brochure that addresses common misconceptions about Aboriginal people. Members also have opportunities to learn about the diverse perspectives by reading articles and FNMI book reviews published in our Voice magazine.

Member engagement includes the following initiatives to encourage and support FNMI members: workshop development and facilitation training; online book club facilitation training; and an FNMI women leadership symposium. Several FNMI members were also provided an opportunity to attend an FNMI education conference organized by an FNMI education affiliate. To identify ways that ETFO can support FNMI members, a literature review, Aboriginal Women in Leadership Programs Report (2016), was published; and an FNMI member sharing circle provided members with an opportunity to share experiences and ideas on union engagement.

In 2015, ETFO endorsed the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action. ETFO is committed to providing our members with FNMI education learning opportunities through various platforms throughout the year. To open all our union events, an FNMI statement acknowledging Indigenous peoples and traditional territories in Ontario is read aloud. Our journey continues. On behalf of our 78,000 members, ETFO wishes everyone a happy National Aboriginal Day and journey into reconciliation!

Read Rachel’s recent article on Truth and Reconciliation that appeared in the ETFO Voice magazine.

Two ETFO FNMI Truth and Reconciliation Webinars were recorded and are now available for viewing and sharing.

Rachel Mishenene is the Executive Staff responsible for First Nations, Métis and Inuit Education at the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario.

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