First Nations School of Toronto empowers students to become future leaders
Like many educational establishments, the First Nations School of Toronto is empowering children to be the leaders of tomorrow and their indigenous ways of teaching and learning are at the forefront of education.
“Not that long ago, kids couldn’t learn this kind of like culture, or their culture,” said Grade 7 student Eden Gepner-Bourgeois. “I think that people need to know that we’re still here, that we practice our culture and we believe in it.”
“They’re being taught the Ontario curriculum, and the only difference with us being a First Nations school, maybe 40 minutes a day, they go to our culture and language class room,” said school principal Jonathan Kakegamic.
“We now have a full-time elder, so he complements the classroom with his knowledge.”
Currently serving students from Junior Kindergarten to Grade 8, the school now has room to grow since moving last December to their new home in the former Eastern Commerce Collegiate.
“This move has been talked about for numerous years already … it’s a historic moment for this school,” said Kakegamic.
The staff and students are excited to be expanding into the secondary school grades and this September, the school will welcoming its first Grade 9 class. Eventually various academic degrees will also be offered.
The Aboriginal Education Centre is also located within First Nations School of Toronto. It’s a place where educators can come from across the province and contribute to the education of children and their ancestors.
“This is about our future, but the future needs to be informed by our past. It is what has allowed us to survive as a people, and it’s what’s going to take us into the future in a good way,” said indigenous researcher and educator Dr. Susan Dion.
“When you look at the issues that we’re going through – like the missing women, and the social issues, and the high suicide – you know it’s important that this school plays a roll along with the parents in a community and providing opportunity where kids can know who they are,” said Kakegamic.
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