In February of this year, professors Warren McBride and Sylvia Smith presented Project of Heart and Justice for Indigenous Women to the University of Ottawa’s teacher-education candidates in their first year FNMI course of study (First Nations, Inuit, and Metis Education: Historical Experiences and Contemporary Perspectives).
Students began with little to no previous knowledge of Indigenous peoples and their historical experiences within Canada. Through hearing from Indian Residential School Survivors and their families as well as Indigenous academics, the students in PED 3138 have covered much new territory. As one student remarked, “I have had the wind taken out of my sails. I was always so proud to be a Canadian and I’m realizing now, that there is much to be ashamed of. Our history has basically been whitewashed.”
For the social justice component of the exercise, students created J4IW jewelry with their gestures of reconciliation. Afterwards, they set up a stand in the lobby of the University’s Education building and accepted donations as people chose their favourite pieces while learning about Canada’s role in the trajectory of violence and incarceration from Indian Residential Schools to the criminal (in)justice system. They also assisted in organizing over 900 students on Parliament Hill for Have a Heart Day, 2018. One student remarked, “You know, it felt really good to be a part of something so big and so meaningful…something all of us were on the same page for.”
Project of Heart and Justice for Indigenous Women are grateful to the new teacher-education candidates for making these heart-felt gestures and in so doing, supporting the upcoming J4IW fundraising campaign partnership.