As teachers we are called to be advocates of change and social justice in the lives of our students. However, teaching towards anti-oppressive education often places us out of our comfort zones and forces us to challenge our own perspectives. For this reason, social justice topics are frequently swept under the rug while solely focusing on the core curriculum subjects. The fact of the matter is, with all forms of diversity becoming more prevalent in schools, these topics should not be avoided and need to be addressed with students of all ages.
First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Ways of Knowing as well as Treaty Education are two of these topics that are often unfortunately approached with an “out of sight, out of mind” mentality in the classroom. The hesitancy towards addressing these two topics arises from our own personal lack of knowledge on the subject matter. Too often the fear of relaying false information, offending others, or portraying tokenism holds us back from integrating these areas into our lessons. However, failing to incorporate such topics into the classroom not only passes up the opportunity to provide our students with a positive perspective, but through the hidden curriculum, we are teaching the students that these topics are of little importance. With any anti-oppressive education theme, it always starts with us, the teachers, and our professional development responsibilities to further educate ourselves on the subject.
After exploring a variety of resources with a critical lens in efforts to become familiar and comfortable with the content, the next step is applying this knowledge into the classroom. Rather then approaching FNMI Ways of Knowing as a standalone subject, find ways in which it can be integrated within and across the curricular subjects. Determining effective strategies to do so can be guided through a strong understanding of the curriculum as well as additional supportive resources such as the following table of how to and how not to integrate FMNI Ways of Knowing.