Bringing Indigenous Voices into the LINC Classroom

On National Indigenous People’s Day, the Calgary Immigrant Educational Society, in partnership with Centre for Newcomers and the Alberta Human Rights Education and Multiculturalism Fund, is proud to announce the July 2019 launch of our Indigenous Voices in the Classroom project! This project aims to amplify the voices of Canada’s First Nations, Inuit, and Métis by working directly with community members to share their stories with newcomer English learners in Canada.

Bringing Indigenous Voices into the LINC Classroom

With the advent of residential schools over 100 years ago, indigenous ways of being and knowing were systematically erased from the Canadian landscape. This historic alienation has resulted in a lack of healthy vocabulary around indigenous people and traditions, and many non-indigenous teachers today lack the confidence to address Canada’s historic atrocities in the classroom, often avoiding the issue completely. As such, when newcomers arrive in Canada, unless they are exposed to sensitive, culturally aware instructors who prioritize indigenous knowledge, they risk ignorance of their new country’s original inhabitants (as many Canadians remain today). By bringing these voices into the newcomer classroom, Indigenous storytellers become tangible and real and shed the stigma of the faceless “other.” By learning from real people and their stories, newcomers can build irreplaceable knowledge and insight into their new home.

CIES and CFN are honoured to have worked closely with elders and community members from the Piikani, Siksika, Tahltan, and Cree First Nations, the Inuit, and the Métis Nation of Alberta, to bring these stories forward. Participants gave their time to create a series of videos on topics important to them, ranging from traditional Blackfoot stories, understanding the medicine wheel, residential schools and their effects, and the hurdles facing indigenous peoples today. These videos informed the creation of a series of engaging classroom activities which, when paired with the videos, can be used to bring a more sensitive, holistic view of Indigenous history into the LINC classroom.

At this time, all classroom materials are intended for the CLB (Canadian Language Benchmark) or Literacy 4 learner, however, the videos can be used as standalone resources for a range of English levels, up to native fluency. We look forward to creating more resources in the future!

Our classroom activities are officially being piloted in classrooms at CIES and CFN beginning August 1, 2019. We look forward to launching the completed Indigenous Voices in the Classroom package early in 2020.

If you would like to participate in the pilot session of the IVIC curriculum, or would like more information, we invite you to contact Whitney Loewen, IVIC Project Manager.

Please check out our video below to get a glimpse of the stories our project will be bringing forward.