An Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF) professional development workshop at 440 Albert Street in Ottawa was the scene on November 25, when Project of Heart presented on how “emotional intelligence and cultural proficiency” could empower teachers to integrate the First Nations, Inuit, and Metis perspective into their classrooms. It soon became obvious that there was a lot of expertise in the room, and the lived experiential knowledge that participants shared with each other as they listened and learned helped the group to grapple with our ‘newcomer’ ancestral historical legacy.
In one evening session, teachers experienced the entire cross-section of Project of Heart methodology, learning from experts like Grandmother Irene Lindsay from Minwashin Lodge and Chris Snowboy, a singer, songwriter, and poet, both former students of Indian Residential Schools. The two survivors shared their experiences and spoke of the impact that the Indian Residential Experience had on their lives, their families’ lives, and the life of their community.
Teachers came prepared with their hearts and their spirits, as they created works of art, smudged by Grandmother Irene, and offered a gesture of reconciliation by signing the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society’s “I Am a Witness” petition. Many thanks to OSSTF District 25 for making this event possible and to Gibb McKay of the OSSTF Provincial Human Rights Committee for organizing the workshop. Photos courtesy of Brian Armishaw.