Over the past year, our Newcomer Services – Welcoming Communities program introduced a few new initiatives, one of which involves Indigenous Arts inspired activities that introduce newcomer students to Canada’s Indigenous peoples. Métis visual artist and Newcomer Program Facilitator, Karen Cull, aims to engage newcomer students through an inclusive arts-based approach.
Participants are invited to weekly in-class sessions that provide students with a tangible experience to learn and co-create, in hopes of promoting future friendships and positive alliances. It is important to educate newcomers about our Indigenous peoples as an effort to better understand Canada’s history, as well as to avoid discrimination and future re-colonization.
Here are some of the achievements and creative works from Faywood Arts-Based Curriculum School, Milliken PS, Port Royal PS, and Donwood Park PS.
Faywood Arts-Based Curriculum School
This Land Recognition mural from Faywood ABC is 4 x 4 ft. Quite often, students hear the land acknowledgements on the morning announcements and have no idea who the cultural groups are. This painting aims to clarify, honour the peoples, and educate the community of staff, students, and parents.
Port Royal Public School
Water is life! Over several weeks, Mrs. Abernethy’s grade 6 class learned about water protectors, activism, and the sacredness of water. Block prints inspired by Michif artist, Christi Belcourt & 13-year-old Anishinaabe water advocate, Autumn Peltier.
Donwood Public School
Artwork inspired by Ojibwa quilter Rita Corbiere of Wikwemikong. Students learn through story and visual engagement about the importance and power of the Binesi – Thunderbird. Topics of discussion include: Mother Earth, taking only what you need, and giving back to the environment.
Inspired by the artworks of Christi Belcourt, students learn about traditional ways of healing and respect for the environment.
Students learn about historic relations between the Métis and First Nations peoples, and the European voyageurs.
Students learn about Haudenosaunee Creation story, and the importance of caring for Mother Earth.
Milliken Public School
Students at Milliken Public School learned about the Native Group of Seven and the circular relationship between the intake and output of the sun’s energy. Student artwork is inspired by Jackson Beardy‘s ‘Loon’ series of Island Lake, Manitoba.
TDSB Newcomer Services – Welcoming Communities is a structured mentorship program for new Canadian students in TDSB elementary schools, middle schools and secondary schools.
Working alongside our program staff, and a peer helper, newcomer students participate in a variety of group activities designed to help ease some of the transitional challenges faced when settling into Canadian culture.
Activities may include: homework clubs, English conversation circles, sports and recreational activities, table tennis lessons, a reading buddy program, steel pan drums lessons, field trips, and a culturally-based culinary program.