Halton District School Board’s Human Rights: Indigenous Realities Symposium
With a robust agenda set for the day, Joc and I were eager to listen each of the speakers. The presentations we attended at the Symposium celebrated Mother Earth and confirmed the collective desire of Indigenous People to return to their lands and reconnect with their culture, language and traditional way of life. Our participation in this excellent day of learning further confirmed for us the need for emphasizing the education of our campers concerning the issues faced by Indigenous People.
Indigenous People have always understood that protecting the natural world, by living amongst it, is essential in ensuring that Mother Earth is able to provide for the needs of all living things, plants, animals and people. Issac Murdoch, Indigenous Community Organizer and Storyteller, Serpent River First Nation, currently residing at Niimkii Aazhbikong, explained that the elders said it was imperative that humans not reach down into the earth more than the width of a hand. If they did, the serpent that lived underground, would be unleashed and cause harm to the earth. As it stands, we are facing a worldwide climate crisis.
Edebwed Ogichidaa Kwe – She who speaks the Truth, Warrior woman leader, Mkwaa dodem (Bear Clan), Mississaugas of the Credit doonjibaa (English name Valarie King) gave an inspiring session on raising the voices of Indigenous women.
Indigenous women were seen and highly respected just like Mother Earth. Women acted as caregivers of the environment and water because of their strong connections to both. Holding various roles (healers, midwives, mothers, warriors, teachers) they were responsible for the transmission of culture including language, songs, teachings and ceremonies.
Mary Marshall, System Principal, Equity & Student Health (and GBC Alum!) was instrumental in executing the symposium. Asked why the HDSB invested in this educational day she said, “This year marks the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Realizing these rights is the work and responsibility of all members of society. Recognizing the importance of this collective effort, the HDSB Human Rights Symposium provided an opportunity to bring together education and community partners to challenge thinking and further the conversation beyond Truth and Reconciliation and toward a new way of actionable thinking about human rights and fundamental freedoms as they relate to Indigenous Rights”.
Beginning with Mary S. Edgar in 1922, GBC has a long history of sharing with campers the culture and stories of Indigenous People, always done with respect and in the spirit of Truth and Reconciliation. We look forward to Summer 2019, GBC’s 98th season!