The role of educators in helping and healing

The role of educators in helping and healing

Many of us in the north took a collective deep breath at the release last week of the report of the National Inquiry into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women.

The report lays out what Indigenous people and our allies have understood for a long time. Concrete and systemic change must happen for Indigenous women and girls, in fact, for all Indigenous people to enjoy the safety and security taken for granted by other Canadians.

As an educator I know first hand the impact of violence and grief on the ability to learn. As a board member of the NWT Literacy Council I am proud that we have talked about the impact of stress on early childhood development in our research, (Early Childhood and Poverty Summary of Research June 2012) and family literacy training. The Council also includes information for adult educators on the impact violence has on learners in our website resources (Violence and Learning Information Sheets).

Could we do more? You bet. I am pleased to see the national inquiry commissioners provide guidance for us among their calls for justice.

  • 11.1 We call upon all elementary, secondary, and post-secondary institutions and education authorities to educate and provide awareness to the public about missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people, and about the issues and root causes of violence they experience. All curriculum development and programming should be done in partnership with Indigenous Peoples, especially Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people. Such education and awareness must include historical and current truths about the genocide against Indigenous Peoples through state laws, policies, and colonial practices. It should include, but not be limited to, teaching Indigenous history, law, and practices from Indigenous perspectives and the use of Their Voices Will Guide Us with children and youth.
  • 11.2 We call upon all educational service providers to develop and implement awareness and education programs for Indigenous children and youth on the issue of grooming for exploitation and sexual exploitation.

I encourage everyone, but especially educators to read the report of the national inquiry and consider its implications for your students and their families. Almost every person I have taught has been impacted by the kind of tragedy people reported to the inquiry commissioners and to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

We owe it to our learners and their families to truly seek to understand and make that understanding part of our daily practice.

— Rosemary Gill, Board member and Treasurer

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