Wilberforce Elementary School students Grade 7 Jordan Amos, left, and Grade 8 Shalynn Badger hold up their mittens they made because of the Indigenous holiday celebration event, which was held virtually. Students were able to take home a pair of mittens they made. Subumitted by Barb Davies

Finding the threads that binds us all

By Darren Lum

Earlier this month, students at the Cardiff Elementary School and Wilberforce Elementary School learned about the important role nature plays during the year for Indigenous people, particularly during the holiday season.

Led by Metis Nation’s Melissa Perry and Tammy Hoover, the multi-day virtual lesson held on Dec. 2 and 4 was facilitated by the Trillium Lakelands District, which gave students here in the Highlands and across the board an opportunity to not just learn, but feel open to share their own family traditions.

The schools’ principal Elaine Fournier said the students were all very excited about the traditional craft making.

“The students made many connections to crafts and traditions that are important in their own homes. As well, the students were eager to discuss the important role that nature plays throughout the year and especially at the holidays,” she wrote in an email.

The lesson included a hands-on lesson on how to make traditional mittens, which were taken home by students.

After the learning opportunity facilitated by the TLDSB’s community partners, the Metis Nation of Ontario, the students were left with an appreciation for Indigenous knowledge and willingness to share their own traditions.

“The day after the celebration, one student brought in a pair of traditional mittens made by her great grandmother. She was eager to share with her classmates and was beaming with pride as she talked about her own family’s traditions,” she wrote.

Fournier continues, “It is very important for the children to learn about indigenous ways of knowing because it  provides opportunities for the students to see themselves reflected in the curriculum and to learn more about others who live in their community. Learning is much more meaningful when the students are able to interact in a hands-on way.”

This was made possible through the TLDSB Indigenous Education Integrating Authentic Voices in Your Indigenous Education Program, which enabled the participating primary students to take home their creations and the storybook, The Metis Christmas Mittens.