Scott Sincerbox welcomed Denise Martins as today’s speaker. Over the last five years Scott and Denise have been colleagues as Superintendents of Education with the Grand Erie District School Board. He praised her skills as a communicator and a collaborator. Denise’s ability to build relationships and her tenacity to see a change through from inception to implementation made her an outstanding leader in their school board. Her work with the Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities was exemplary. Today Denis shared some of the accomplishments.

The GEDSB, like many other organizations recognized the Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe people as the traditional peoples of this territory. They acknowledge and give gratitude to the Indigenous peoples for sharing these lands.
The school board represents 26,000 students in 58 elementary and 14 secondary schools within the City of Brantford, and the Counties of Brant, Haldimand and Norfolk as well as secondary students from Six nations of the Grand River and the Mississauga of the Credit First Nation.
As leaders and educators in the community the school board knew that it must respond to the finding of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada was formed as a result of recognition of the cultural genocide and assimilation inflicted upon Indigenous people in Canada for generations and in concluding its work, created 94 Calls to Action including numbers 62 and 63 specifically focused on education. 
The Grand Erie District School Board focused on #63 ii, iii, iv as expectations for the system. #63. We call upon the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada to maintain an annual commitment to Aboriginal education issues, including: ii. Sharing information and best practices on teaching curriculum related to residential schools and Aboriginal history. iii. Building student capacity for intercultural understanding, empathy, and mutual respect. iv. Identifying teacher-training needs relating to the above.

In response to this, effective the 2020-21 school year, the English course that Grand Erie students in all Grade 11 pathways are required to take a focused course on Indigenous content and Indigenous authors. Understanding Contemporary First Nations, Métis and Inuit Voices included updated curriculum from the Ministry of Education. The  focus on Indigenous content and Indigenous authors aligned with Grand Erie’s Multi-Year Plan 2016-21, Success for Every Student, through the Equity Indicator and worked to promote practices that help students, families and staff feel safe, welcomed and included.
To meet this goal, collaboration occurred with local Indigenous communities, Indigenous Education staff, secondary school administrators, NBE Advisory Committee and the Student Success team.  Part of that collaboration was to layer in the local context of Six Nations of the Grand River and Mississauga’s of the Credit First Nation into the content of the course(s). Hence, a list of local texts was created, with each school choosing which works to study. Authors included Richard Wagamese, Drew Hayden Taylor, and Sara General, a local author from Six Nations of the Grand River. 
•    Sample unit(s) for each pathway course were created by Grand Erie writing teams
•    Sample units were reviewed by the NBE Advisory Committee
•    2 Professional Development sessions for English teachers occurred pre- implementation of the courses on Indigenous Identity and Unpacking the Resources
•    Funding was provided to schools to purchase text from the recommended text list
Supports for Teachers
•    Virtual Learning Environment Resource Folder
•    Internal Staff Portal Resources
•    Text Resource List
•    Community Resource List
•    Support of the Indigenous Education and Student Success Teams
•    Indigenous Education Social Media Links
    Twitter: http://@IndigenousEdGE 
    FB: http://GEDSB Indigenous Education Office
2020-21 Focus
•    Implementation of NBE Grade 11 courses
•    Development of 3 E-Learning Courses in each pathway
•    Ongoing PD Series Sessions
•    Online learning opportunities in the VLE (Virtual Learning Environment)
•    Online Discussion tool in V
Our team received very positive feedback from administrators, educators and parents regarding the implementation of this course during the COVID 19 pandemic.
“Part of our role as educators is to provide an opportunity for our students to hear the diverse stories of our country as well as our local communities and to learn from voices that have often been ignored or overlooked.”
“The goal was to engage all students in developing a better intercultural understanding as a way to build a positive future together. It showcased great literature and a rich and wide array of writers to facilitate critical thinking and meaningful discussion in the classroom, which will prepare our students for Grade 12 and beyond.”
Hence, addressing and meeting the TRC #63 recommendations.