Yellowknife Education District 1 teachers, educational assistants and support staff gathered at the Yellowknife River Thursday to participate in a day of learning about indigenous languages.
According to coordinator Andrea Harding, the purpose of the day was to educate the school’s approximately 300 new and returning staff on the importance of language and culture so they can better participate in the Dene Kede curriculum.
“It’s really just an opportunity for us to respect and participate in the cultural exploration of the region, and to bring people together so they feel like we’re supporting their professional learning in a way that matters to them,” said Jameel Aziz, superintendent. for the Yellowknife School District.
Aziz hopes educators can use the skills and resources of this educational day to break down cultural barriers in their classrooms and preserve indigenous languages.
The day began with a chief salute and fire-lighting ceremony, followed by a keynote address and performance by Juno Award-winning Canadian singer Susan Aglukark, who herself graduated from Sir John Franklin High School in Yellowknife.
After lunch, staff practiced skills in indigenous cultural practices such as soapstone carving, elk skin tanning, canoeing, bead making, and more.
The participants also had many opportunities to get to know the Willide language.
“As a young Indigenous woman, I feel this is needed more and more,” said Crystal Catholic, Sir John Franklin’s new Education Assistant. “Teachers can experience what we have been doing since I was growing up – that they can take the language with them, show students that this is what is being done in this area of the Northwest Territories. .”
It was also the first time educators have been able to come together since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Yellowknife students return to class on August 29th.