Successful theatre production a catalyst for professional development
TORONTO, Dec. 10 /CNW/ - An Aboriginal educational initiative that would
kick-start professional development and build understanding among
non-aboriginal and aboriginal school communities across southern
Ontario is being proposed by the Presidents of Ontario's two largest
teacher federations and Regional Grand Chief for Lake Huron Region
Isadore Day, who also represents the Union of Ontario Indians (UOI).
The parties met this week in Sudbury at a performance of Roseneath
Theatre's production of Spirit Horse, which has just completed a 33-community tour of Northern Ontario
elementary schools organized by the Elementary Teachers' Federation of
Ontario (ETFO) and the Ontario English Catholic Teachers' Association
(OECTA). The project, made possible by funding from the Ontario
Ministry of Education, also provided Arts professional development for
over 460 teachers across the north.
"Spirit Horse is a play that challenges cultural stereotypes and
introduces First Nations culture and contemporary issues in a way that
has ignited the imaginations of students," said ETFO President Sam
Hammond. "It would be an excellent vehicle to support teacher
professional development (PD), the Ministry's Aboriginal Education
Policy, and anti-bullying and equity policies. ETFO and OECTA would
welcome another successful partnership with the Ministry."
In its First Nation, Métis, and Inuit Education Policy Framework
released in 2007, the Ministry of Education identified Aboriginal
education as one of its key priorities, with a focus on improving
achievement among First Nation, Métis and Inuit students to achieve
parity with non-Aboriginal students. Approximately 62 percent of
Ontario's Aboriginal peoples now live in urban areas, with the majority
in Southern Ontario. That percentage continues to grow.
"The development of an Aboriginal Study Guide by Aboriginal education
specialists, combined with PD and the play, would assist teachers to
make these studies really come alive in the classroom," added OECTA
President James Ryan. "That same model drew excellent feedback from the
teachers and students of 160 schools that participated in the northern Spirit Horse Arts project. This time, the primary focus would be on developing a
better understanding of Aboriginal issues—historical, urban and
rural—among elementary educators, and non-Aboriginal and Aboriginal
school communities. "
Regional Grand Chief Isadore Day experienced the impact of Spirit Horse on students when he attended last Monday's production with the
Honourable David C. Onley, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario. "Not only
does the play address the theme of racism, it provides a really
important message of hope and building character," said Grand Chief
Day. "As part of a Southern Ontario tour, I would want to see students
and teachers from First Nations band schools participate in this
initiative alongside Ontario's public and Catholic schools."
With support from the Grand Chief and Union of Ontario Indians, the ETFO
and OECTA Presidents plan to approach the Ontario Ministry of Education
and the federal Department of Indian Affairs for funding. A 10-12 week
tour in Southern Ontario would cost approximately $600,000.
SOURCE Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario
For further information:
|Valerie Dugale, ETFO |
Off: 1-888-838-3836 x2331, Cell: 416-948-0195
| ||Michelle Despault, OECTA|
Off: 416-925-2493 x509