Indigenous education at the OCSB
The Ottawa Catholic School Board wants to ensure that all students will have the knowledge, skills, and confidence they need to successfully complete their elementary and secondary education in order to pursue postsecondary education or training and/or to enter the workforce. They will have the traditional and contemporary knowledge, skills, and attitudes required to be socially contributive, politically active, and economically prosperous citizens of the world. We are committed to:
- engaging with Indigenous community members to strengthen their voice and involvement in education
- ensuring equity for Indigenous students
- designing and providing programs and services that foster student success
- providing a culturally-relevant education
- increasing knowledge and appreciation of contemporary and customary traditions, cultures, and perspectives for all students and staff
- providing a welcoming environment to our First Nations, Métis, and Inuit students
Experiencing Indigenous Culture at the OCSB
Our Indigenous students have opportunities to participate in different initiatives related to their heritage and culture, such as learning and leadership programs and art workshops. After-school programs for Indigenous students are offered in various schools from kindergarten to Grade 12. In these programs, community elders and artists work in collaboration with teachers to support the learning of traditions in an urban setting. We have a Restorative Practices room at Notre Dame High School that complements our Aboriginal Lodge at St. Michael School. Each room provides students with access to a space for healing circles, learning about cultural teachings, meetings during after-school hours, and for smudging ceremonies. Additional learning spaces are being planned for the next school year.
Our First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Studies teachers meet regularly as a Professional Learning Community, where they learn about traditional and cultural teachings and to share resources from the Indigenous community. Teachers and administrators also receive training through conferences, networks, workshops, and other experiential opportunities which prepares them to meet the unique learning needs of Indigenous students in our schools and they are able to gain a greater understanding of the services available to Indigenous community members in Ottawa.
Some professional development activities held in the past year include: cultural competency training from the Ontario Federation of Indian Friendship Centres, restorative practices training, and Indigenous Art and Restorative Teachings (I-ART) in conjunction with MASC.
We strongly believe in the importance of educating all our students about Canada’s Indigenous peoples. Our students are given rich opportunities to participate in Indigenous-centred activities, such as:
- student-led Healing Circles for classes throughout the school
- Indigenous art exploration, bannock making and drum-making
- trips to the the Museum of Nature’s Arctic exhibit, powwows, Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health
- Aboriginal Awareness month in November
- activities to raise awareness of the importance of the spiritual bundle, the 7 grandfather teachings, and the structure of traditional Indigenous communities and their history
- First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Ministry of Education Leadership Camp
The Ottawa Catholic School Board follows the First Nation, Métis, and Inuit Education and Policy Framework established by the Ministry of Education. We have been a proud member of the Aboriginal Education Committee of the Ottawa Aboriginal Coalition and the Urban Aboriginal Strategy-Ottawa Steering Committee since it was created. We offer the following First Nation, Métis, and Inuit Studies courses:
- Expressions of Aboriginal Cultures (NAC10): This course will explore a variety of contemporary and traditional Indigenous art forms such as new media, storytelling, installation, and performance art.
- Current Aboriginal Issues in Canada (NDA3M): This course focuses on existing and emerging issues of national and regional importance of concern to Aboriginal peoples in Canada.
- Aboriginal Peoples in Canada, Grade 10, Open (NAC2O): This course emphasizes historical and contemporary issues that affect the relationship between Indigenous peoples and Canadian governments.
- Beliefs, Values, and Aspirations of Aboriginal Peoples in Contemporary Society (NBV3E): This course focuses on the diverse beliefs, values, and aspirations among Indigenous peoples of Canada.
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Voluntary and Confidential Self-Identification for First Nation, Métis, and Inuit students
The Ottawa Catholic School Board is committed to providing our First Nation, Métis and Inuit students with an education that honours Indigenous ancestry. When you self-identify as First Nation, Métis or Inuit, you help provide your child with the opportunity for enhanced academic programming and support to succeed in school and life.
For students under 18 years of age, a parent or guardian must identify on behalf of the student. For students 18 years of age and older, the student can choose to self-identify. Proof of ancestry is not required for the purpose of voluntary and confidential self-identification.
What happens to the information?
When you self-identify, the information is maintained in the student’s Ontario Student Records (OSR) confidential file at their school. The information is available to your child’s teacher and principal so that enhanced programming, support, and opportunities can be provided for your child. As part of Indigenous education programming, the OCSB will:
- engage with First Nations, Métis and Inuit community members to strengthen their voice and involvement in education;
- ensure equity for First Nations, Métis and Inuit students;
- design and provide programs and services that foster student success;
- provide a culturally relevant education; and,
- increase the knowledge and appreciation of contemporary and customary traditions, cultures, and perspectives for all students and staff.