Both city school divisions held cultural awareness seminars prior to the school year beginning.
Yellowknife School Division No.1 (Yk1) staff held an Indigenous Language and Culture Professional Day on Aug. 28.
Yellowknife Catholic Schools (YCS) held a professional development day entitled Creating a Connected Culture on Sept. 29.
Yk1’s yearly event seeks to recognize reconciliation efforts between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in the education curriculum and good fortune for the coming school year.
The day’s event included guest speakers and co-authors Richard Van Camp and Monique Gray Smith, who spoke about how teachers can improve relationships on the journey toward reconciliation and the importance of respecting and acknowledging the geographic location where they are teaching as home of the Dene.
The day also included a fire feeding ceremony in the afternoon at the Weledeh River Dene ceremonial site.
This included a greeting from Dettah Chief Ed Sangris, and a prayer by members of the Yellowknives Dene Drummers.
YCS also had education experts and Indigenous leaders at its event, including Ndilo Chief Ernest Betsina. Dr. Trent Keogh, president of Keyano College in Alberta was keynote speaker.
“We as Canadians struggle understanding our own history and some are coming to equate acceptance of Indigenous truth with an unwarranted and resented personal shaming,” Keogh was quoted as saying in a news release.
“As educators, we need strategies to address ‘shame-fear’ and I’ll share my story of discovering one pathway through utilization of Restorative Practice discourse.”
At Yk1, Scott Willoughby, coordinator of Indigenous Language and Culture, organized the day’s event.
“Today is the first that the entire staff is together and the idea is about reconciliation,” he said.
“It is about giving teachers and approach in the classroom to work with their students.”
At the fire-feeding ceremony at the Weledeh River ceremonial site, teachers were invited to offer a message of hope for the coming year with the ceremony.
Sangris welcomed guests to the traditional site and said the event was marked to ask the creator for good fortune for the coming year and also give thanks for the days that have come.
“You are teaching our children for the future how to be good citizens,” he told the circle of teachers at the site.
“It is quite important that we help each other through language and culture. It is important that we continue to work to at reconciling our differences and also recognizing what has been done to the Dene people. “