Guest speaker Christina Saunders shares perspectives on Indigenous education with teacher candidates

Course director Ixchel Bennett recently welcomed guest speaker Christina Saunders to her “Issues in Indigenous Education” class to speak to teacher candidates (TCs) about her work as an Aboriginal woman and educator with the Toronto District School Board (TDSB).

Christina held a sharing circle of "speaking your truth" with TCs on the topics of appropriation vs. appreciation, debunking myths, reconciliation, and treaties. She also provided them with insight into her role as an Instructional Leader at the TDSB’s Indigenous Education Centre where she develops and leads various professional learning workshops for school board personnel on how to develop and integrate Indigenous education into their lesson plans and deconstructing Indigenous stereotypes.

Teachers candidates participate in a Sharing Circle

“Sharing Circles are an essential part of the oral tradition of Indigenous communities that provide opportunities for each voice to be heard, respected, and valued,” said Bennett. “The sharing circle that Christina held with the students gave them a first-hand account of an Indigenous tradition that could be incorporated into their future teaching practice to ensure that their students are given an equal opportunity to share their opinions and ideas.”

"The insight and first-hand account of the work that the TDSB and other school boards across Ontario are doing in response to the call for reconciliation that Christina provided us with was invaluable,” said teacher candidate Carlos Escamilla Duarte. “Hearing about her many experiences and challenges gave us a true sense of the importance of integrating Indigenous perspectives and knowledge into our future teaching practice(s).”

Saunders also sits on the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario's (ETFO) Aboriginal Education Standing Committee and is deeply committed to leading the transformation of the education system so that Aboriginal and other marginalized students feel safe and can reach their full potential. Her recent article in ETFO's Voice provides educators with information on "Getting Ready for Treaties Recognition Week."