Category Archives: Forgiveness

Searching for Truth & Reconciliation

For too long, Canadian history books have painted a euro-centric picture of colonization. For too long, we have ignored our collective history in favour of a charming perception of Canada as a kind, respectful, inclusive country where we protect human rights and freedoms. We have glossed over darkness and ignored the needs of those who have suffered. I feel fortunate to live now in this time of transition where we can all play a part in truth and reconciliation. BC’s redesigned curriculum is founded on the First People’s Principles of Learning, and yet there are so many questions for teachers to navigate…

What are the principles? Where can I learn more? How do I teach perspectives authentically and respectfully? Is it about tackling the tragic history of residential schools? Helping students see the value in not just tolerance, but acceptance and respect for diverse points of view? How do we address sensitive topics like religion and abuse (especially at the elementary level) while still being truthful?

The only thing of which I am convinced is that it is now about so much more than content.

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This year, I have made an attempt to learn more. I’ve attended workshops, read stories, and most recently, heard Wab Kinew speak about how the residential school system has impacted his family. First hand accounts of the inter-generational effects of disconnection and abuse have made me reflect on everything from anger to compassion and forgiveness.

Recognizing my own ignorance, I have a pile of books waiting to be read, including Wab’s The Reason You Walk, and I have made an attempt to involve my students in my learning journey this year. We have explored picture books and kid-friendly biographies about attending residential school, which were a beautiful way to introduce the topic.

We’ve also increased our emphasis on place-based learning. Through weekly nature walks, we try to learn from nature rather than simply bringing learning outdoors. So far, we’ve explored geometry, patterns, human impact, and physical education.

While I do believe these are steps in the right direction – my students are genuinely engaged in the history of residential schools and wanting to learn more –  I don’t feel they are anywhere near enough. I know that I will never understand enough.

We can never make things right, but we can continue listening and seeking people’s truth. I only hope we can find the courage to admit our ignorance, acknowledge the tragedy of our collective past, and open our hearts to those who need to be heard. I am no expert, but I will continue seeking people’s truth, as I believe this is what will lead us to reconciliation.

Inspiring Others to Flourish

On May 11, I was lucky enough to attend TEDx West Vancouver: Rethink Education. It was a very inspirational day full of amazing speakers. However, there is only one that I have not been able to stop thinking about.

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Photo Credit:
quantumlars via Compfight

Katy Hutchison is an amazing, inspirational woman. Following the murder of her husband in 1997, Katy spent five years waiting for a conviction. Despite her tragic situation, where many would seek revenge, Katy developed a sense of compassion and a desire to support young people who, because of upsetting or unfortunate circumstances, end up making poor decisions.

Katy shared her story of how she met the man who murdered her husband, asked him why he did it, and then, when he began to cry, proceeded to hug him. She spent time visiting him in prison and getting to know him. She remained calm and compassionate. She used her tragic situation to practice forgiveness. She watched him recover slowly and re-enter society. She did what I am not sure many people could do. She gave him a “time in.” Katy is a remarkable woman for whom I will forever have an immense sense of admiration.

Katy now travels the world sharing her story about how her experience has taught her that restorative justice is the most effective way to deal with poor behaviour and decisions. I was very much impacted by her story and I began to think about how her philosophy applies to our education system. Rather than reprimanding bad behaviour, shouldn’t we spend time trying to get to know our students and why they may be making poor decisions? Shouldn’t we try to understand their perspective? Perhaps if all educators were a bit more like Katy, we could help students grow into the people they were meant to be.

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Photo Credit:
AlicePopkorn via Compfight

Katy influenced me to reflect on my everyday interactions and experiences both with my students and with everyone else I come across in life.

Perhaps if everyone were just a little more like Katy, our schools and our world would be better off.

When did you last help someone flourish into the person they were meant to be rather than what they appeared to be on the surface?