It never ceases to amaze me how my encounters with others enrich my life in the most unexpected ways. Last week, following a day long Ministry session, I had planned on making a quick visit at our Native Language teachers’ staff meeting to share information about next year in terms of teaching assignments and building capacity within our team of Oneida speaking Occasional teachers. The discussion ended up taking much longer than I had anticipated, so I decided to stay until the end of the meeting while the team talked about plans for upcoming professional learning sessions. As the formal part of the meeting finished, the discussion continued and became very personal as our teachers reflected on their childhood, their parents, their grandparents, experiences with residential schooling and how those experiences impact their work with their students in today’s classrooms. Our current team of Native Language teachers, our FNMI Student work study teacher, our FNMI Learning Coordinator and our new FNMI Educational Advisor are all extremely committed to exploring every avenue possible to educate not only our students, but all educators in Thames when it comes to developing a deeper understanding about First Nations culture.
As I sat quietly and listened to these women share story upon story about past pain and future healing, I was overcome with a deep sense of appreciation. Every time someone shares a piece of their history, it is truly a gift as it provides me with a perspective that I can only learn through their stories. In my current role, I have come to develop such a tremendous respect for so many of our FNMI educators, as they work to ensure that this generation of learners know and honour their history.
Two hours later, my initial plan of a “quick” stop was a distant memory. As I was leaving the meeting, one of our newly hired teachers, asked me to follow her out to her vehicle, where she proceeded to give me a beaded bracelet that she had made for me as a “thank you” for believing in her and hiring her for her current position.
To be given a gift seemed ironic, when in fact, I should have been the one giving our Native Language teachers and Educational Advisor a gift, as a thank you for their continued dedication to storytelling and inspiration.
When was the last time you gave someone the gift of a personal narrative which may have had an impact on their life?
Come write with me…..