Guy Vanderhaeghe BEd’78 Lifetime Achievement Award
Vanderhaeghe is best known for his trilogy of award-winning literary westerns. His honours include three Governor General Awards for Literature, a Faber Prize in Britain, the Lieutenant-Governor’s Arts Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Arts, and the Order of Canada. Book lovers around the world know him as an exceptional storyteller, but for many in the University of Regina alumni community he is also an admired educator, cherished friend, and someone who is as humble as he is talented. Read more
Dr. Margaret Dagenais BSc’71, CVTED’87, BVTED’91, MEd’97, PhD’11 Dr. Robert and Norma Ferguson Award for Outstanding Service to the University of Regina and the Alumni Association
Dagenais has served the University of Regina Alumni Association as a board member, committee member, on the executive and as a representative to the University of Regina Senate. She has also shared her considerable expertise through her work on the CIDA funded University of Malawi Polytechnic Technical, Entrepreneurial, Vocational Education Training Reform project. Read more:
fYrefly in Schools has been awarded a Youth Leadership Award from Prairieaction Foundation (PAF). This is the first year that PAF invited applications for Youth Leadership Awards, which recognize youth and youth initiatives that address safety by promoting healthy relationships and anti-violence initiatives.
The award and a cheque for $3,000 was presented by the Lieutenant-Governor the Honourable Vaughn Solomon Schofield at Government House on May l5, 2017. Christian Andrew, a trans fYrefly summer student (and a secondary English pre-intern in the Faculty of Education), accepted the award and spoke briefly about the work fYrefly is doing to give voice to marginalized youth. Director of fYrefly in Schools Dr. James McNinch reports that during a conversation, the Lieutenant Governor said “she was aware of the good work we were doing and would like to know of any events that she might attend.”
fYrefly in Schools will be using the award money to fund two Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) mini-conferences in Saskatoon and Regina. McNinch says, “GSA members and student leaders will gather to learn about gender and sexual equity and strategies to make their schools more welcoming and inclusive to gender and sexually diverse students.” (One was held in Saskatoon last weekend). A Regina GSA mini-conference will be held on May 27, 2017.
Prairieaction Foundation has an interesting history dating back to the 1989 mass murder of women at a polytechnique in Montreal. The prairie-based non-profit is dedicated to reducing violence and abuse in our society.
Along with the recognition this award conveys, Jenn will also receive a year’s membership in CAEP and an honorarium. She will receive the award on Tuesday, May 30 at the CAEP Annual General Meeting, and has been invited to share her work at the annual Wine and Cheese on May 29, 2017.
Artist and second-year Arts Education student, Molly Johnson, was commissioned to produce the commemorative piece that will be installed in the Faculty of Education to celebrate the Arts Education program’s 34 successful years in the Faculty of Education and the Fall 2016 introduction of the new Arts Ed program.
Visual Education Chair, Dr. Valerie Triggs says, “The Faculty of Education decided to invite proposals for a work of commemorative art to celebrate the years that the Arts Education program has been in the Faculty and also the transition to the new program. We received many excellent proposals. The selection committee decided to award the commission for this commemorative work of art to Molly Johnson.”
The Faculty also approached the MAP (Media, Arts, and Performance) Faculty, requesting an artist-mentor to work alongside Molly. Dr. Triggs says, “We had the privilege of connecting with a graduate student from MAP, Jennifer Shelly Keturakis.”
On her role as mentor, Jennifer says it was an honour to work with Molly; she is “self-directed, motivated, intelligent and articulate…I had one set of expectations of what my input would be because I made some assumptions based on her being a second year [student], based on my own experience as a second year, but I quickly had to pick a different role.”
Molly’s artwork was exhibited and celebrated on March 7, 2017 at the Student Success Celebration.
To hear Molly’s explanation of her work, view the following video:
Congratulations to Dr. Christine Massing, who has been awarded the Phi Delta Kappa Doctoral (PDK) Dissertation Award for 2016. This is a $1000 award scholarship from the University of Alberta. Christine will present her research on April 19, 2017 at the PDK final meeting of the year.
Congratulations to Dr. Alec Couros, an international leader in educational technology, digital literacy, and social media, who was honored on November 3 by MindShare Learning with the EdTech Leader of the Year (Post Secondary) award. The announcement was made at the 7th Canadian EdTech Leadership Summit in Toronto. MindShare Learning aims to transform learning in the 21st century through innovative educational practices in and beyond Canada.
Read about MindShare Learning.
Assistant Professor in Early Childhood Education, Dr. Christine Massing, was recognized by the Canadian Association of Teacher Education(CATE) with the CATE Award for her doctoral dissertation, An Ethnographic Study of Immigrant and Refugee Women’sKnowledge Construction in an Early Childhood Teacher Education Program at the Canadian Society for the Study of Education (CSSE) Congress held in Calgary in May, 2016.
This honor acknowledges Christine’s excellent work and important contribution to Canadian teacher education research.
The following is an interview with Christine about her research, which explored how immigrant and refugee women construct understandings of the authoritative or dominant discourse of early childhood in relation to their own beliefs, values, knowledges, and experiences:
What circumstances/situation led you to research the topic of your dissertation?
At the time I was contemplating doctoral studies, I was teaching in an early childhood program specifically designed for immigrants and refugees. At the end of my first year, one of my students, a refugee from Somalia who had raised 10 university-educated children, expressed to me that she now realized that her approach to mediating her children’s disputes had been “wrong.” Through conversations with my students over the next year, I came to understand that some of the theories and practices they were learning in the program were dissonant with their own understandings. Because I have also lived and taught in diverse contexts—Japan, Egypt, Colombia, Mexico, Guatemala, and in two First Nations communities here in Canada—their comments resonated with me to some extent (although as a temporary visitor I did not experience such discontinuities between worldviews as acutely as my students did). I felt concerned that many of these women—all of whom had extensive experience as mothers, teachers, or caregivers in their home countries—might believe that they needed to abandon all that they knew about teaching and caring for young children to be accepted in Canadian school and preschool settings. Despite their candor, I sensed that they were reticent to be too critical of the program and, by extension, me as an instructor so I felt I might elicit more details as a researcher.
How has your research impacted your personal and/or professional life?
On a personal level, I have appreciated the friendships I have developed with many of my research participants and I have learned so much from them. Professionally, this research has assisted me in identifying some of the funds of knowledge that immigrants and refugees bring to early childhood theory and practice, which, in turn, enriches my own work with teacher candidates. I hope to mobilize these new understandings to guide teacher candidates toward being more responsive to culturally and linguistically diverse children and their families. This research has also deepened my understanding of how teacher candidates navigate unfamiliar content in their coursework and internships and inflect their practice with their own beliefs and values. If students have time and space for dialogue with the content and practices they are learning, they can populate their practice with their own intentions and meanings and make it their own.
What do you hope your research might accomplish in the field of education?
When I undertook this research, I had the impression that my immigrant and refugee students simply appropriated the dominant practices because they wanted to “fit in” and be seen as professionals. However, I was surprised to find that in some situations the participants rebelled against the authoritative practices, instead enacting their own beliefs and practices when their supervisors were not looking. Therefore, they risked failing their placements because they strongly believed that some of the dominant practices were not in the best interests of the children. It is my hope that early childhood sites and teacher education programs will begin to acknowledge the validity of what Bakhtin refers to as “multiple, polyphonic voices” so culturally and linguistically diverse teacher candidates can imbue their practice with their own knowledges and beliefs. I believe that such practices will provide richer and more meaningful experiences for immigrant and refugee children and their families who will be supported in their diverse ways of being and becoming.
Was it difficult to achieve your research goals? How did you overcome obstacles (if any), whether personal or professional?
The primary concern I had in doing this research was gaining the trust of participants because I was researching in a program for immigrant and refugee early childhood students and was very obviously an outsider. Although the participants knew that I was a doctoral student and early childhood instructor, for three semesters, I sat in classes alongside them and participated in all of the course experiences as a student in the program. Many of my participants were Muslim so the fact that I had lived and worked in Egypt was particularly helpful in building trust. They did come to accept me as “one of them” so much so that they invited me to participate in their activities and transgressions (such as skipping class!).
The following excerpt from Christine’s dissertation illustrates the tensions faced by immigrant/refugee early childhood students, something she considers to be at the heart of her research:
Ameena’s explanation actualizes this tension between personal or cultural ways of being with children and the authoritative discourse of professionalism: “Professional means you do how they teach you [in the ECTE program] even if they (supervisor or instructors) don’t see you…. Joanne [an educator], she’s more professional in how she talks to the kids, how the kids love her. Everything she does in a real way, the right way, and a real way” (Interview, February 28, 2013). Joanne is perceived as holding the “right” professional knowledge, but she is also “real,” acting intuitively and applying what she personally knows about children. Consistent with Wenger’s (2000) work, the professional educator must be able to mobilize her personal understandings and refine the expected competencies. Since the practical knowledges of immigrant and refugee students or educators are excluded from the authoritative discourse, it is difficult for them to legitimately apply their own understandings in this manner. Essentially, these women are positioned as needing to change themselves otherwise their learning trajectory will never lead to full, legitimate participation in the early childhood community of practice (Wenger, 1998).
Abstract: In my former role as an early childhood education instructor working with immigrant and refugee women, I came to understand that they might experience a dissonance between the authoritative discourse (Bahktin, 1981) of early childhood, inscribed with western theories and values, taught in the program and their own intuitive, tacit, and practical knowledges. The purpose of this study, funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and the Killam Trusts, was to explore how twenty immigrant/refugee women constructed understandings of this authoritative discourse as they negotiated their professional identities during their coursework and field placements in an early childhood teacher education program. Using an ethnographic methodology, I was immersed in the participants’ coursework and practicum experiences for two to three days a week over three semesters of study, collecting qualitative data through field notes, spatial mapping, interviews, focus groups, and artifacts/documents. One of the most significant findings of this research pertained to the participants’ own responses when confronted by discontinuities between the professional expectations in the field and their own knowledges, practices, beliefs, and values. Consistent with the limited scholarship in this field, the participants did sometimes feel compelled to suppress their own beliefs and enact what they had learned in the program in order to be seen as professionals. However, this research elucidated two additional responses. First, the participants sometimes resisted or rejected the authoritative discourse in favour of their own cultural practices. On other occasions, they authored their own hybridized professional identities derived both from the professional expectations in the community of practice as well as from their own cultural and religious beliefs and values about how to teach and care for young children. This research contributes to our understanding of the knowledges and experiences immigrant and refugee women bring to the field which can be mobilized to support the meaningful inclusion of immigrant/refugee children and their families in schools or early childhood settings.
Supervisor: Dr. Anna Kirova, professor of early childhood education at the University of Alberta,
Committee members: Dr. Heather Blair and Dr. Lynne Wiltse.
Date defended: October 26
Alumna Lindsay Stuart (B.Ed. 2009; M.Ed. 2015) found her passion in the very field she had never wanted to work in: Early Childhood Education.
On May 12, her work with children was recognized at the Prime Minister’s Awards for Teaching Excellence in Early Childhood Education, which took place in Ottawa.
Stuart is employed with Regina Public Schools, at Henry Braun, as a Kindergarten teacher.
She graduated from the U of R with a B.Ed. in 2009 (Pre-K – 3). This was her second degree; her first was a U of R degree in Human Justice (2000), which followed a Diploma in Criminology from Mount Royal University in Calgary. Then, in 2015, she graduated from the U of R with her M.Ed. The title of her project was Relational Reverberations: A Narrative Inquiry Into the Interconnected Lives of Children, Families and Teachers.
Looking at her early educational choices (Criminology and Human Justice) it is clear that the B.Ed. after degree was an afterthought. Stuart says she actually never wanted to be a teacher. She explains,
I grew up in a family of teachers and saw firsthand how rewarding, but yet, personally draining and all consuming it could be. In fact, when I graduated from high school, my family told me they would help me through university, but if I went into education I was on my own. It wasn’t that they wished they had chosen differently, or they didn’t see me as capable, they were worried and protective due to their deep understanding of the increasing demands being placed on educators.
After graduating with my initial degree in Human Justice, I spent my 20’s working and travelling. It was by happenstance that I ended up in Japan with a teaching contract. I remember before leaving saying I would be all right as long as I didn’t have to work with young children! FAMOUS LAST WORDS!!! It was there that I found my passion and calling to education. I haven’t looked back!
The following is an interview with Stuart regarding her experience as a student in the Faculty of Education, University of Regina; her experience of becoming employed as a teacher; of being a novice teacher; and what it is that she is doing as an Early Childhood Educator that has caused her to be recognized with this award.
How (and how well) did your B.Ed. and/or M.Ed. program equip you for the work that you are now doing?
My undergraduate degree provided me with a strong base with which to begin my teaching career. My Master’s empowered me to ask critical questions and begin viewing things through a new lens. It helped me to delve deeply into my own life and view not only myself but also my profession and the world in a different way. Essentially, my B.Ed. gave me the “what” (to do) and the “how” (to teach), but my M.Ed. has provided me with the “why.” It truly gave me a new way to look at myself and my teaching.
What was a highlight for you while a student at the University of Regina?
Without a doubt, the highlight was the Summer Institute in 2014, “Play, Art and Narrative,” facilitated by Dr. Patrick Lewis and Karen Wallace. Although I anticipated that these courses would provide me with a stronger knowledge base about early childhood education—and they did—that was not the greatest takeaway. During three intensive weeks, I learned more about myself than I could ever have imagined. This learning has made me a better friend, colleague, teacher, family member, and person. I am forever indebted to Patrick and Karen for creating a space for this to take place.
Are there any (other) professors who helped shape who you personally/professionally? How so?
In addition to Patrick and Karen, who found ways to both challenge (in critical but safe ways) and support me, I was so fortunate and blessed to have Dr. Janice Huber as a mentor, project supervisor, advocate and friend. Janice introduced me to narrative inquiry, which has woven its way into my being. It has become an integral part of who I am in the world. She was always there to listen and to wonder with me, and she empowered me to believe not only in myself, but also in the important work I do with children and families.
What happened after you graduated with your B.Ed. degree?
I finished my degree right after my internship in the fall of 2009. I was interviewed and hired by Regina Public directly out of internship. I remember being surprised in January, on the first day school resumed, that I was called to sub. I was to split my day between EAL (English as an Additional Language) in the morning at Judge Bryant and DPS (Discovery Pre-school) at Henry Braun in the afternoon. It is kind of ironic as both of these positions ended up becoming permanent for the rest of the year! The DPS position was open right away due to the fact the teacher had left early on maternity leave. I accepted the half time position and remained subbing in the morning until in early February a half time EAL contract opened up at Judge Bryant School. I was interviewed and received that position. To my good fortune, the 50% Kindergarten teacher at Braun was retiring that year, and I was able to shift into a permanent role at Braun as 50% K and 50% DPS. I worked extremely hard during this time, but I was also in the right place at the right time.
What did you find difficult about being a novice teacher? What or who helped you through?
I found everything difficult being a novice teacher!! From the mundane things such as finding out where supplies are kept and how to work the photocopier, to critical things such as creating and sustaining relationships (students, families, community, colleagues), classroom layouts, classroom management, designing and setting of routines, appropriate assessment techniques, etc… perhaps most important was knowing how to find a balance between professional and personal time. Looking back now, the best thing I did as a new teacher was admit what I didn’t know, and search/ask for help. I found a mentor in my building, an experienced teacher, who assisted me through all the ups and downs. I was open to learning from all those who surrounded me (administration, educational assistants, speech and language pathologists, educational psychologists, outside agencies etc.). I think the gravest danger facing new teachers is in believing they need to know everything, and thinking that admitting they don’t, will reflect negatively. The secret is learning you will NEVER know everything! Being a teacher is a constant journey of becoming.
What is it that you are doing differently that has caused you to be recognized by the PM Award for Excellence in teaching ECE?
There are many terrific teachers doing amazing things in their classrooms who are just as deserving as I. I was lucky to have colleagues, families and administration take the time to complete the incredibly long nomination process on my behalf. The process included providing the selection committee with detailed curriculum vitae, several letters of recommendation and a lengthy essay that demanded exemplary evidence of support for the development of children, innovation in practice, involvement with parents, families and community, and commitment and leadership in the field.
Imagine entering a space and before you, you see several students gathered around a ladder discussing the ways in which force and friction are inhibiting motion in their construction designs. Over in the corner there are three students using FaceTime on their teacher’s phone to ask a local expert questions about the garter snake they found in the playground. You can overhear another student reading and when you turn around you notice she is filming it herself and when you ask what she is doing, she tells you she is uploading it to send to her mom. Three others are in the hallway taking pictures to create their own books, and finally, in the library, one student is busily searching for information about birdhouses using QR codes. Now, imagine these students are only five years of age.
Technology is shifting the landscapes of early learning environment and in turn redefining my pedagogy and the learning taking place within my classroom. My teaching challenges the notions that I am the sole knowledge-keeper and that learning is always teacher-led. In my classroom, technology, the outdoors, and the community are all effective tools in student-directed, process-based, inquiry-driven learning.
Recognizing that families lead busy lives, technology—from e-portfolios and blogs to Skype, FaceTime and texts—has opened the doors of our classroom by allowing family members to stay in touch and become active participants in the classroom. E-portfolios enable students to independently document, share and reflect daily learning. Parents are able to view and comment on the experiences taking place in their child’s school life, all but replacing traditional and static report cards. The classroom has also become open to the community through the use of ‘expert panels.’ Dozens of community leaders and industry professionals have consented to have their contact information stored on every young learner’s iPad, which can used to be contact them in real-time. If they are able to take the call, these professionals will engage with the students and help them with their self-directed inquiries.
The applications utilized in our classroom are thoroughly vetted, used only as appropriate tools and never substitutes for learning or engagement. It is not about simply using technology but rather about providing opportunities, spaces and relationships for children to compose their learning and lives in unique, safe, and developmentally appropriate ways.
I am an unyielding advocate for the power and potential of ‘little people’, and I am guided by a belief in their inherent capabilities. I feel it is my responsibility to challenge the notion that Kindergarten’s purpose is to “prepare students for Grade One.” Rather, I believe Kindergarten has its own focus and goals. As my pedagogy has evolved, I have shifted away from traditional “theme-based” teaching, and started to design overarching year plans around key concepts and ideas. I continually ask myself, “What exactly am I teaching children? What skills are they acquiring? Will they be able to use this information? Will this information help them become life-long learners? Will this information help them become better citizens? Shifting away from the ‘what’ of teaching, I spend a great deal of time reflecting on the ‘how’ of teaching. More specifically, “How do I believe young children learn?”, “Where do I believe they learn?” and “What am I doing to support the ways in which they are composing their lives?” It has been through answering these questions, that I have found ways to engage the natural curiosities of children and empower them on their own unique learning journeys.
What do you love about teaching?
What do I love about teaching? EVERYTHING!!! If I had to name one thing, it would be the amazing relationships I have blossoming around me.
What was it like, receiving this award for Excellence in Teaching?
Receiving the award was both exciting and humbling. It was exciting to have a chance to travel to Ottawa, tour the national capital, and meet the Prime Minister. It was humbling because I know of so many amazing teachers who deserved to be there alongside me. In addition, it was humbling knowing the reason I was there was because colleagues and families of the students in my room nominated me.
What was the highlight of this experience?
There were two highlights of the trip. The first was a best practice round table sharing session. Each award recipient gave a brief presentation about the work taking place in his/her environment. It was phenomenal to learn alongside such innovative and passionate individuals. The second was receiving emails, texts and letters from colleagues, and former/current families with words of congratulations and kindness. These touched me more than anything!
The SUNTEP faculty, alumni, Elders, and guests gathered Friday May 6, 2016 to honour and celebrate this year’s SUNTEP graduates: Trenna Beauregard, Dalton Burzminski, Hannah Haydt, Taylor Pelletier, Chelsie Sinclair, and Alicia Reiss.
The evening, hosted at the Delta Regina, included entertainment provided by SUNTEP Alumna Alison Kimbley and the Seven Stone Steppers elementary school jigging club accompanied by Métis fiddler, Nathan Baker. The evening program included the First Nation drumming group, Napewsak, who sang an honour song for the graduates. The keynote address was given by Wendy Willis and awards were presented by Russell Fayant, and community Métis knowledge keepers Joe Welsh, Erma Taylor, and the Amyotte family. SUNTEP Executive Director Geordy McCaffery addressed the graduates as well. Greetings and congratulations were extended by Mike Cappello from the University Of Regina Faculty Of Education.
Chelsie Sinclair was honoured with a starblanket for the “Spirit of SUNTEP” award in recognition of her commitment to leadership and volunteerism within the community.
Dalton Burzminski was awarded the “David Amyotte Memorial Scholarship” to recognize his commitment to Indigenous education.
Third year student, Taylor Frei, was awarded the Lebret Métis Cultural Days Scholarship in recognition of his familial connections to Lebret as well as his commitment to teaching Métis culture through pre-internship.
The graduates chose to honour SUNTEP faculty member, Brenna Pacholko, with “The Order of the Sash.”
To end the evening each graduate was honoured with a Métis sash and a unique leather portfolio in acknowledgment of their hard work in accomplishing their Bachelor of Education degrees. SUNTEP is proud of each of the 2016 graduates for their contributions to education and the Métis community thus far and wishes them the best in their future endeavours.
Submitted by Brenna Pacholko, SUNTEP faculty member
In October 2015, Kim Sadowsky, a teacher at Thom Collegiate and a Master’s of Education (Curriculum & Instruction) student in the Faculty of Education, University of Regina, was announced one of six winners of the 2015 Governor General’s History Award for Excellence in Teaching.
Recipients of this award are celebrated for their achievements in teaching Canadian history. Kim’s success is due to the design of her Native Studies class, which explores the question, “Who is a Treaty Person?” The class re-enacts Canadian history throughout the semester in a simulation.
The following is Kim’s description of the course:
“In Native Studies 10/30, students embark on a Treaty simulation that lasts the entire semester and takes them through an intricate role-play where students become the Indigenous peoples of Treaty #4 territory in what is now Saskatchewan. It is a living simulation where each day the students are playing out key events in Canada’s history and drawing their own conclusions about how the events of the past have influenced their place in Canada today as Treaty people. Their course goal is to create an inquiry-based or social-action project that demonstrates their knowledge of Canada’s Treaty relationships and encourages others to acknowledge that ‘We Are All Treaty People’ and as such have a responsibility in understanding and acknowledging our shared history of this land.
The semester begins with one simple question: “Who is a Treaty person?” From this question, our entire course unravels as students relive Canadian history from both an Indigenous and non-Indigenous perspective. The goal of the course is for students to begin to act on their understanding that being a Treaty person carries a massive responsibility in working towards decolonizing and reconciling Treaty relationships.
Students and even the teacher play the role of either the Indigenous peoples or the Government of Canada as they take part in the simulation. They begin with Treaty negotiations as the classroom is transformed into a historical time warp. Eventually, students are assigned reserves (certain areas of the classroom) in which they are to live. The Residential school, offices of the Indian Agents, and the Prime Ministers headquarters are also assigned locations in the classroom.
Throughout the semester, students experience day-to-day scenarios in which history is played out: Everything from the Indian Act, to attending residential school or being forced to leave their reserve because of Enfranchisement is re-enacted. Later in the semester, they visit ideas of revitalization and resource development on reserve, truth and reconciliation, and current events from society and politics.
Nearing the end of the course when the residential school is closed, students discuss the contemporary effects of inter-generational traumas and current social issues that have resulted from Canadian history. They explore their own family roots and stories, acknowledging their identities within this history. Students piece together how the past has impacted their understanding of the present, and as a result, they create hopeful healing and possibilities for the future. They acknowledge and celebrate the success and contributions of Canada’s Indigenous peoples to the building of Canada and society today.
During the simulation students gain knowledge and empathy as they navigate thru Canadian history and critically develop the skills to investigate the perspectives of various decisions that were made by the Canadian government and Indigenous people.
As much as possible, the content of the course is delivered in the oral tradition to honour Indigenous ways of knowing. Primary sources are used as much as possible if there are to be written documents. The students have access to elders, residential school survivors, local authors, politicians, and familial stories to really make this history live.
Students are connecting with material that makes it real and meaningful. It is one thing to learn about decolonizing from books… it is quite another thing to live it. That is what the simulation attempts to do.
The students’ final project is to create and show an exhibition of their learning. The outcome is to demonstrate their understanding of how Treaty relationships throughout Canadian history have shaped Canada today as well as acknowledge their roles as Treaty people. Whether class project or an individual work of art, writing, dance, or music, the results have been extraordinary. Not only have the students displayed internalization of knowledge, but also, as an educator, I have learned so much about Canadian history as a result of this simulation. The students have humbled me with their ability to become so completely passionate about history, moving learning far beyond the walls of the classroom!”
Kim graduated from the U of R, with a B.Ed. degree in 2001, with a major in Social Studies, and minor in Physical Education. In the program at that time, Kim says her experience was that, “the conversation around the impacts of colonization and Treaty relationships were totally absent.” She views this absence as reflecting a “systemic amnesia” that has existed in our society in regards to our shared history and the overall resistance to learning about it. What she is now learning about Indigenous history, along with her students, allows her, “to see that there were complete chapters in our shared history that had been left out.” Thus, when a colleague, David Benjoe, who was leaving Thom after paving the way for the Native Studies course, said to Kim, “You need to teach this course,” Kim felt unqualified. She says, “I was terrified. I knew nothing about Native Studies…and I was not Indigenous.” However, with David’s encouragement to “just be honest, respectful, kind and funny,” Kim agreed to teach the course.
With guidance from David and others, Kim found that being non-Indigenous opened up spaces for learning where students were the knowledge keepers in the classroom, not her. This allowed for opportunities to connect with families and community, moving learning beyond the classroom walls. In fact, she has since understood how important her role as a non-Indigenous person is in decolonizing her classroom through these learnings.
“To have been teaching for 15 years and to only now connect the dots of colonization, especially as a Social Studies/History teacher…It is shameful,” says Kim. This regret has been the driving force behind her course and how she teaches it.
Kim is passionate about “addressing the gaps that exist within our system when it comes to education and whose history is being taught and whose is being left out,” because she believes it “is integral when moving forward.”
As a M.Ed. student “surrounded by some pretty phenomenal professors at both the First Nations University and the University of Regina,” Kim is able to see that the Faculty of Education is also moving forward and addressing the gaps. She says, “The education program has changed a lot since I went through it. The U of R today is a different place and is engaging in authentic learning opportunities for future educators in a deeper understanding of the impacts of colonization and Treaty relationships and how this impacts the way we teach. The need to decolonize is now prevalent in the Education Faculty and gives much hope.”
Kim recognizes the importance and central role education has in the process of reconciliation and the hope of rebuilding the relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. “We must realize that education had a key role in creating a legacy of hurt, pain, fear, racism, and so on, and as educators we have a massive responsibility in contributing to the healing process through education,” she says.
Unlearning colonized history and decolonizing relationships involves not only the content that is taught but also how the content is taught. Kim says, “I cannot stress enough, the importance of teaching Indigenous and non-Indigenous people from an Indigenous perspective. Many of these stories, events and accounts of Canadian history have been completely left out. By digging deeper and challenging uncomfortable learning students are able to recognize circumstances, events and key moments in Canadian history where we have struggled together as Treaty people.”
Kim’s passion has ignited the interest of others at Thom Collegiate. This fall, over 25 classes from a variety of subject areas took part in the “Building Our Home Fire” project, which explored the legacy of the residential school system. Participating students and teachers found it to be “an incredible experience.”