Education International Seminar and World Indigenous Peoples Conference on Education
The World Indigenous Peoples Conference on Education (WIPCE) is a triennial international conference. This year, the QTU sent an unprecedented delegation consisting of three members of the Gandu Jarjum Committee, Penny Taylor, Letitia Choppy and Letitia Murgha. The three delegates also attended the Education International Seminar that preceded WIPCE.
Education International Seminar
The two-day Education International (EI) Seminar was held in the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario building.
Many educators spoke of resilience of working in environments that have a horrific history of violence and trauma, children being taken away, family units destroyed, animals destroyed as they were close with family, languages forbidden to be spoken and human rights taken away from people.
The presentations during this forum spoke of strength, resilience and connection. They highlighted that even with the plight many Indigenous groups encountered over history and time and with everything being taken away, destroyed or hidden, success, hope and faith can endure and shine through.
This was highlighted by one presenter who for seven years has lived and worked at a very isolated and remote region in far North America and was able to motivate and connect with students through their environment. It led to bigger dreams for these students and a phrase that got them through: “When you run by yourself, you run fast. When you run with many, you run far.” The students from this remote location shone through all the adversity that has affected their community. They have experienced suicide, unemployment, substance abuse but have seen their community grow from one in which students did not attend school to one that embraced learning and was supportive of public education.
One of the other highlights of the seminar was an address by Maggie MacDonnell, winner of the Global Teacher Prize. The Global Teacher Prize seeks to acknowledge the impacts of the very best teachers – not only on their students but on the communities around them. Maggie was recognised for all the work she has done in the Canadian Arctic region. For more information about Maggie, go to: www.globalteacherprize.org/top-10-finalist/maggie-macdonnell/
WIPCE is a major international event that attracts highly regarded Indigenous education experts, educators and scholars. The conference provides a global platform for discussions on contemporary movements in education that support Indigenous worldviews.
In promoting this, delegates were addressed by Rebecca Jamieson, President and CEO of Six Nations Polytechnic, a unique post-secondary organisation recognised as a centre of excellence for Indigenous knowledge. Rebecca reminded approximately 3,000 delegates of the resilience displayed by the First Nations people around the world and the importance of working together to build a new future.
She said: “As we move forward in creating ways to reconcile the past and build a future sustained by respectful co-existence, it is always important to acknowledge the resilience of the Indigenous people who kept their languages, knowledge, ceremonies and ways of being alive despite all efforts to eradicate them. In this time of reconciliation it is also critical that we acknowledge and welcome those who journey with us in building this future.”
As one Chief spoke on the connectedness of people, he reminded us as Indigenous educators to be mindful of the following:
- Not be lost in the world that we are living in
- To be careful and patient
- To never lose sight of who you are
- Generate and keep what is important to us, and learn.
The conference was also addressed by Dr Verna Kirkness, founder of WIPCE 30 years ago. She spoke about the concept, how it started, and its continued growth over the years.
There were more than 200 different workshops, including:
- Strengthening Identity, culture and psychotherapy
- Creating a more culturally responsive workforce
- National policy contexts
- Promoting Indigenous workforce
- Indian residential schools
- Walking Two Worlds
- Learning through respect: A Canadian perspective.
Penny Taylor and Letitia Choppy Gandu Jarjum
Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 122 No 7, 6 October 2017, p22
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