On November 1, 50 teachers from Spain participated in a day trip to Kitigan Zibi, an Anishinabeg First Nations reserve outside of Maniwaki, Quebec. The visiting teachers travelled there as part of a year-long professional development program, hosted by an adult school that offers classes through the University of Ottawa. The aim of the visit was to improve learning theories and learn more about holistic education.
A number of Faculty of Education professors joined them in visited Kitigan Zibi, including Dean Richard Barwell, Director of Education Nicholas Ng-A-Fook, B.Ed. ICI Cohort Professor Michael Wilson and part-time Professor Nectaria Karagiozis.
The group was welcomed at the Kitigan Zibi Cultural Centre by Verna McGregor, an Algonquin Elder, who explained some of the rituals and customs that are important to the Kitigan Zibi community. She also gave a brief history of the Algonquin people and explained the traditional pow wow. She spoke about the inter-generational trauma that many of the community’s children face, namely that assimilation was preventing children from learning about their cultural roots, and that their culture was slowly being extinguished as a result. Language retention is a major problem, and to counter this, the Algonquin language is taught in Kitigan Zibi’s Kikinamadinan elementary and high schools on the reserve. Verna also mentioned that the schools on the reserve are trying to indigenize their curriculum to teach students about their traditions and culture.
Three Spanish professors read heartfelt poems, and the group proceeded to share a hot meal. Pictures were taken and minds were enlightened; the trip proved to be a meaningful first step in understanding and valuing First Nations in Canada.
The photos of this day trip can be found on the Faculty of Education’s Facebook page.