UBC Okanagan is receiving a $1 million government grant to establish a partnership research initiative for the next five years. The funding will bring Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action into the classroom.
The project — Co-Curricular-Making: Honouring Indigenous Connections to Land, Culture and Relational Self — will be led by Margaret Macintyre Latta, the UBC Okanagan School of Education’s director and is funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.
The university will be partnering with organizations including the Okanagan Nation Alliance, Central Okanagan Public Schools, IndigenEYEZ, Kelowna Art Gallery, Kelowna Museums Society and the universities of Alberta and Ottawa.
“As partners committed to education’s importance within reconciliation, we will be working together to map out needed understandings, and enactment, to enhance collective efforts towards truth, reconciliation and healing in classrooms to realize the transforming potential of education,” said Latta.
The university says the partnership will bring local Elders together with educators.
“By the end of the five-year project, teachers and their students will have gained deeper understandings of Syilx culture with teachings that connect land, culture and understandings of self in the world,” UBCO staff stated in a news release.
The Syilx People of the Okanagan Nation are a trans-boundary tribe separated at the 49th parallel by the border between Canada and the United States.
University and community partners will be designing and delivering new learning opportunities that will help teachers in confronting colonizing practices that have influenced education, according to university officials.
“We’ll be building an understanding of how to help educators create safe spaces for challenging discussions across diversity and inequality,” said Kelly Terbasket, the program director and co-founder for IndigenEYEZ, which hosts camps, workshops and other events.
“We’ll be in the schools with them as they support students to make meaning out of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission content, see other points of view, and learn from our shared history in order to bring change that makes us all stronger together.”
A Central Okanagan Public Schools representative is excited to be a partner in the new research initiative.
“Central Okanagan Public Schools have just signed an Equity in Action Agreement with our Indigenous communities. The document reflects the district’s intention to create equity in academic results, self-determination and cultural pride and awareness for our Indigenous students,” said Kevin Kaardal, Central Okanagan Public Schools’ superintendent. “This grant will help staff have the necessary curricula and academic supports and resources to make this aspiration a reality.”
“We are excited to be learning together.”
UBCO says the partnership will further curricular pathways in kindergarten to Grade 12 education, productively contributing towards reconciliation across Canada.