Saturday 2 June 2018

A Journey Toward Reconciliation

A Journey Toward Reconciliation
Shelagh McCracken  @shelagh77
HPEC Executive Member, Middle School HPE Teacher

Indigenous perspectives and moving toward reconciliation are areas of interest for me and have become an important part of my job and my life. Today, June 2nd marks the third anniversary of the Calls to Action by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Last year my involvement in Curriculum Design for the province allowed me to experience some of the history and culture of Alberta’s Indigenous people. These experiences brought back my interest in First Nation spirituality, which began when I taught in Siksika Nation. This school year began with a desire to start a journey toward reconciliation. I wasn’t actually sure what that meant or where I would begin. In November 2017, Ever Active Schools provided me with an opportunity to attend and volunteer at Ever Active’s Resiliency Youth Summit, which was an enlightening experience full of hands on opportunities for Indigenous youth in Alberta. I recently took a class of grade 7s to a Pow Wow hosted by the Niitsitapi Learning Center, and volunteered at Calgary Board of Education’s Pow Wow to celebrate this year’s graduates.
This year I also began creating a traditional games unit to use with my PE classes; a unit that not only can be used on National Indigenous Peoples Day (which is June 21st each year) but that can be a stand alone unit used anytime during the school year. The University of Saskatchewan created a document which includes descriptions of the games. I also use games from Be Fit For Life’s resource (links to both resources below). As someone who works with predominately Caucasian students, one of my goals is to inform as many youth as I can about our Canadian history. Facilitating the Blanket Exercise for our students is one way I am helping our student population begin to understand the true history of our country.

By experiencing and interacting with Indigenous people I have gained knowledge from Elders and Knowledge Keepers, storytellers, singers, dancers, film makers and spoken word artists. The Indigenous people and cultures I am continuing to encounter portray themselves as resilient souls, full of grace, humour and a keen sense of their culture. I also feel like they too are ready to heal together by sharing their culture with anyone who would like to experience it. I am often left with feelings of hope after attending an event. I have come to realize that by inviting others on my journey to experience and embrace Indigenous cultures and perspectives is a walk toward reconciliation. Let’s walk together.



Be Fit For Life - Move & Play through Traditional Games Activity Cards


Indigenous Games Cole Wilson, Saskatchewan Physical Education Association

PE Games (
I recently purchased Volume 5 of PE Games (Pink book) at the HPEC Conference and it has a few Indigenous games. You can also email for deeper history and explanation of the games which is an important piece to include. 

Why our kids need to learn about residential schools

“Elder in Making”
I was able to meet and listen to Cowboy Smithx during a conference session. Cowboy is a Blackfoot film maker who made “Elder in Making”. It was powerful. You can watch it on youtube. Here is episode 1 -

KAIROS Blanket Exercise from Alberta Teacher's Association

Others to follow on Twitter:

·         Dr. Cindy Blackstone - @cblackst (who happens to be from very close to my hometownJ) Member of Gitxan Nation, prominent researcher and advocate for the rights of children. Executive Director of the FirstNations Child and Family Caring Society.
·         Brian Torrance - @briantorrance, an amazing advocate for Indigenous people and the Director of Ever Active Schools.
·         F. N. Caring Society - @Caringsociety - The Caring Society stands with First Nations children, youth, and families for equal opportunities to succeed.
·         NWAC - @NWAC_CA - The Native Women's Association of Canada 
·         The Circle - @TheCircleCanada- An open network to promote giving, sharing, & #philanthropy with #Indigenous communities. 
·         Reconciliation Canada - @Rec_Can - Revitalizing relationships among Indigenous peoples & all Canadians through dialogue.
·         AFN - @AFN_Updates- The Assembly of First Nations is the advocacy organization representing #FirstNations citizens on Turtle Island. 
·         APTN National News - @APTNNews
·         CBC Indigenous - @CBCIndigenous - The latest news and current affairs from Indigenous communities across Canada and @CBC