Truth and Reconciliation, an effort to reveal the truths about Indigenous peoples in Canada and move forward in establishing and maintaining respectful relationships can be woven into teacher education programs in several ways. Teacher education programs can integrate Indigenous knowledge and culture into their existing courses, provide opportunities for students to take electives in Indigenous education, and include Indigenous scholars into the faculty to foster a diverse and inclusive educational environment.
Beyond the confines of traditional instruction, teacher education programs can actively engage teacher candidates in immersive experiences that authentically introduce them to Indigenous culture through practicum. This September, the Robertson Program launched an immersive experience that educates teacher candidates from the Master of Arts in Child Study and Education program at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (University of Toronto) about Indigenous ways of knowing through land-based education. Co-created with our partners at Johnny Therriault School in Aroland First Nation, a remote Indigenous community in Northern Ontario, this initiative includes three parts:
- A one-week orientation trip to introduce teacher candidates to the community.
- Sustained relationship building throughout the school year by providing remote math support to students at Johnny Therriault School.
- A month-long immersive placement at Johnny Therriault School.
The week-long orientation visit gave teacher candidates the opportunity to learn from Indigenous knowledge keepers and community members, and experience culturally traditional practices, like beading and fishing. Teacher candidates reflected on how Truth and Reconciliation could exist in their future classrooms.
This initiative is mutually beneficial for teacher candidates and Johnny Therriault School. The program gives teacher candidates an opportunity to build capacity to authentically integrate Indigenous culture and knowledge into their classrooms. In turn, teachers at Johnny Therriault School have an opportunity to be mentors, share their own learning, and learn about the latest educational research from teacher candidates. With respect, collaboration, and humility at the forefront, we are creating Truth and Reconciliation in teacher education.