About the resource

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What Can I Contribute to Meaningful Reconciliation? is a unit that explores the causes and consequences of residential schools in Canada. Developed in collaboration with Grand Erie District School Board, Six Nations of the Grand River’s Education Department, and the Mississaugas of New Credit, this resource supports educators and learners in using a critical-inquiry approach to develop deep understandings of some of the complex, challenging, and painful events that have affected the relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada. This resource invites thoughtful and reflective explorations that move us beyond understanding the past and into our roles and responsibilities in the present. Through a learning journey where carefully considered decisions and empathic engagements are nurtured, learners are encouraged to develop genuine commitments and engage in meaningful actions that contribute to reconciliation. Designed for grade six and up, the fully-developed lessons include briefing sheets, image sets, suggested resources, and blackline masters to support student thinking and learning about reconciliation.

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Within Grand Erie’s boundaries, only minutes from our Board Office is a daunting laneway lined with trees and secrets, leading to a building full of truths to be heard, stories to be told, and voices to be honoured. On these grounds stands the Mohawk Indian Residential School, a large and looming reminder of all the work that still needs to be done for all students within our Board. Our complex local history, so personally affected by this legacy, called for a local, context-specific response to guide Grand Erie educators and students on the path to reconciliation.

-Sabrina Sawyer
Indigenous Education Lead-Teacher Consultant
Grand Erie District School Board

PDF documentRead the full excerpt by Sabrina Sawyer.

About the collaborative process

This teaching and learning resource was collaboratively developed by the Grand Erie District School Board and The Critical Thinking Consortium with feedback from our advisory committee and community members representing:

  • Six Nations of the Grand River’s Education Committee
  • Mississaugas of the New Credit
  • Woodland Cultural Center
  • Ontario Institute for Studies in Education
All members of the team were committed to ensuring that local history was centered and that respectful and developmentally appropriate approaches to the lesson content and design were honoured. An important dimension of the unit development was centering the voice of Indigenous perspectives and ensuring that forms of tokenism or appropriation were challenged. This was an ongoing consultative process that enabled all key stakeholders to have a strong voice in all significant decisions that were made.

Team members
  • Brenda Blancher, Director of Education, Grand Erie District School Board
  • Lorrie Gallant, Education Coordinator, Woodland Cultural Centre
  • Stacy Hill, Six Nations Native Advisor, Grand Erie District School Board
  • Audrey Powless-Bomberry, Chairperson, Six Nations of the Grand River’s Education Committee
  • Amanda Sault, Director of Education, Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation
  • Karen Sandy, Board Trustee, Grand Erie District School Board
  • Sabrina Sawyer, Indigenous Lead-Teacher Consultant, Grand Erie District School Board
  • Sandra Styres, Professor, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education
  • Usha James, James Miles, Susan Teed, Maria Vamvalis, Warren Woytuck, and Kara Zutz, team members from The Critical Thinking Consortium

It has been a real privilege for The Critical Thinking Consortium to be involved in this project. As an organization, we have been thinking about what we can contribute to meaningful reconciliation. Through our resource development processes, facilitation of professional development, and partnership building, we are aware that we are in a position to be inadvertently perpetuating colonial attitudes and systems. We are thinking about not just what we create but how we create. We know that we have much thinking and learning to do as we step forward into a process of reflection and action. Learning with and from our partners from the Six Nations of the Grand River and the Mississauga of the New Credit has been such an important experience for us. We were committed to co-constructing the resource from the ground up and learned to listen carefully and with an open mind and heart. We are very grateful for the opportunity and will continue on our own journey toward meaningful reconciliation.

-Usha James
Executive Director, The Critical Thinking Consortium

Developing a resource for your community

Funded by the Grand Erie District School Board, this resource was originally created in collaboration with Elders, Indigenous community members, and educators of their community to explore the relationships between Canada, Canadians, and First Nations, Six Nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples. We can work with all stakeholders to tailor this resource, re-imagine this resource, or build a similar resource around a local issue or context.

The Critical Thinking Consortium aims to support teaching and learning for reconciliation as respectful, collaborative co-learners, not as experts. We seek to engage in deep and meaningful listening, collaborative conversations, and the careful consideration of perspectives and approaches in our efforts to make contributions to meaningful reconciliation.

Diverse school districts are committed to the profound responsibility of engaging in truth and reconciliation for all the learners they serve. Many non-Indigenous educators hope to participate in this work in a respectful and meaningful way, but they are aware that good intentions are not enough or can even be harmful. We are able to support district teams, in consultation with key stakeholders, to develop or adapt approaches and resources that are responsive to local histories, contexts, and needs that will engage students in authentic critical inquiries. Our overarching objective is to nurture thoughtful, empathic, and critically-minded dispositions, and contribute to genuine and impactful actions that help to transform challenging local histories into a reimagined present and future.

-Maria Vamvalis
The Critical Thinking Consortium

For more information

Please direct your inquiries to:
Usha James, Executive Director
Warren Woytuck, Director