Social Studies teachers representing SSENC traveled across Canada to the traditional territory of the Kwanlin Dün First Nation and Ta’an Kwäch’än Council (Whitehorse) and the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations (Haines Junction). This stunning location served as a place to gather and ‘learn to unlearn’; to explore and deconstruct the underlying beliefs and values that influence social studies education in Canada.
As educators, we are committed to providing a safe space for students to become critical thinkers, experience various perspectives and narratives while hitting the curriculum outcomes within constructed timelines. But in reality, dominant global power structures continue to influence elements of the economy, health, gender and human rights around the world in negative ways. We have been exposed to a single story; a monoculture, a colonizing story. NCGC hosts Athulya Joseph, Tracey Wallace and Meera Sarin provided a space where we could have deeper conversations, sometimes sitting with being uncomfortable. During the three day gathering, we were able to learn from facilitators Caroline Wanjiku, David McConville, Vanessa Andreotti, and Rene Susa who used a holistic approach to show how historical, cultural, and systemic factors have contributed to our existence. We engaged in meaningful discussions with greater awareness and sensitivity. The end goal to become agents of change.
Reflections from the Gathering
“ The workshop was a profound experience that deeply inspired reflection on my personal worldview and practice. It introduced the concept of universal truths and emphasized the importance of learning from First Nation cultures. The idea that understanding a worldview requires looking at it from emotional, mental, spiritual, and physical dimensions resonated strongly with me.”
“The notion that beliefs flow from core assumptions, and that challenging these assumptions can lead to a cognitive shift in thinking, was eye-opening. David’s statement about worldviews being distinct yet interconnected, much like rivers feeding into each other, highlighting the impact of one culture’s worldview on others.”
“The workshop also left me pondering the destructive influence of colonialism on conquered cultures, and how it has impacted their way of life. It made me question how we can empower these cultures to regain what was lost, and break the cycle of dominant culture’s power. Understanding the importance of appreciating different perspectives and fostering relationships with other cultures instead of dominating them was a significant takeaway.”
“I will challenge my students to think more deeply about the subjects they are learning and inspire them to generate thought-provoking questions that drive further inquiry. This approach will help them become more active and inquisitive learners. I will work on helping my students recognize their privilege and acknowledge that there are millions of people who do not enjoy the same advantages. This awareness is crucial for fostering empathy and a sense of responsibility.”