Walking together: Parental understanding is part of the equation

November 15, 2016
Julia McDougall, ATA Walking Together consultant

As the Walking Together project embarks on its journey, knowledge about First Nations, Métis and Inuit (FNMI) cultures will begin to unfold. These cultures are diverse, and the personal stories and oral histories that will be shared are when the learning begins to take shape. As different indigenous languages become recognized within the province, schools will be that much closer to using the wide range of resources and materials available for teaching our valued students.

Parental understanding is a vital part of this move toward reconciliation. One way to develop this understanding is to get involved in class activities and become a part of the shared stories. The time spent participating and attending community events will also deepen awareness of contemporary and traditional FNMI cultures, histories, perspectives, languages and different methods of learning.

Listening to elders share their stories is one method of learning, as oral stories are embedded in FNMI cultures. It enhances and piques the imagination when stories are told from a personal perspective. Stories are what keep the culture alive. It also delivers to elders respect and a sense of honour while sharing their wisdom and their stories. It consistently models a culturally appropriate behavioural learning setting.

Just as significant events are important, so is humour in everyday life. Using laughter is one way to offset the daily stresses that sometimes come into play. Having a sense of humour is a gift, an important asset to possess. Oral stories rich in history and humour intertwine the culture.

Taking the time to continuously learn about school and community activities helps build understanding and lasting relationships. When schools and communities are sincere, open and respectful, the learning becomes that much more valued and respected, so every learner benefits greatly. So let us begin walking together for respect, love, courage, honesty, wisdom, humility and truth.