Truth, Reconciliation and Our Responsibility to Indigenous Families

The OCDSB recognizes and acknowledges our unique responsibility and commitment to the diverse population of Indigenous students we serve.

  • It is our responsibility to teach all students the truth about the dark history Canada has been hiding. 
  • It is our responsibility to embed and celebrate the rich, diverse Indigenous contributions (historical and contemporary) and ways of knowing into the everyday lives and learning of students. 
  • It is our responsibility to provide education that is free from oppression and shame and to build a path forward in collaboration and partnership with care, creativity and innovation. 

Indigenous families in the OCDSB

Ottawa and the OCDSB are located on the unceded and unsurrendered land of the Algonquin people. However, it is not only home to the Algonquin Nation. Ottawa has the highest population of Inuit in Ontario, and Indigenous peoples from various First Nations and Métis communities reside here. 

While some schools in the District have higher numbers of self-identified Indigenous students registered, all schools have students who identify as Indigenous. Every school has a responsibility to provide the necessary support and opportunities for Indigenous students to flourish, succeed and maintain physical, emotional, mental and spiritual well-being. We are accountable for creating cultural spaces, offering support and opportunities to Indigenous students and families, and engaging in relationship building in every school in the District. 

It is important to understand that each group of Indigenous peoples have their own languages, ceremonies, traditions and ways of knowing. The life experiences of Indigenous students and their families vary from student to student. 

  • Some students live in deep connection with their culture and Indigenous identity and others are very removed from theirs. 
  • Some students have spoken their Indigenous languages since birth and others have never even heard their language. 
  • There are students within the education system and in our buildings whose parents and grandparents attended Residential Schools, or were a part of the 60’s scoop. 
  • Indigenous children in care are significantly overrepresented in Canada. The First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada estimates that Indigenous children comprise 30-40 percent of kids in care. We have many children who live in foster and group homes. 

Intergenerational trauma is not confined to the past. The impact of colonialism on students and their families cannot be ignored. It is important to know this and to understand some of the impacts these traumas have and continue to have on families. 

Truth and Reconciliation

In 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) put forth 94 Calls to Action for Canadians to repair the relationship with Indigenous peoples. Calls 62 and 63 in particular set out the ways in which the education sector can ensure accountability while working towards reconciliation. 

From the TRC Calls to Action:

62. We call upon the federal, provincial, and territorial governments, in consultation and collaboration with Survivors, Aboriginal peoples, and educators, to: 

i. Make age-appropriate curriculum on residential schools, Treaties, and Aboriginal peoples’ historical and contemporary contributions to Canada a mandatory education requirement for Kindergarten to Grade Twelve students. 

ii. Provide the necessary funding to post-secondary institutions to educate teachers on how to integrate Indigenous knowledge and teaching methods into classrooms. 

iii. Provide the necessary funding to Aboriginal schools to utilize Indigenous knowledge and teaching methods in classrooms. 

iv. Establish senior-level positions in government at the assistant deputy minister level or higher dedicated to Aboriginal content in education

63. We call upon the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada to maintain an annual commitment to Aboriginal education issues, including: 

i. Developing and implementing Kindergarten to Grade Twelve curriculum and learning resources on Aboriginal peoples in Canadian history, and the history and legacy of residential schools. 

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.

United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

The Calls to Action are consistent with the principles endorsed by Canada in 2010 in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), particularly Articles 14 and 15 which reinforce the rights of Indigenous peoples to have the dignity and diversity of their cultures, traditions, histories and aspirations reflected in education. 

Further, the Ontario First Nations, Métis and Inuit Policy Framework 2007 ensures accountability for addressing the importance of data-driven decision making, support for staff and students, and engagement with the Indigenous community through establishing relationships and partnerships. 

OCDSB Indigenous, Equity and Human Rights Roadmap

The OCDSB is committed to building knowledge and understanding among educators and students in Indigenous Education and to collect and communicate evidence of progress to ensure accountability. 

The OCDSB Indigenous, Equity and Human Rights Roadmap 2020-2023 reflects a human rights-based approach focusing on equality and nondiscrimination, participation and inclusion, and transparency and accountability. The OCDSB’s commitment to students, staff, families and communities who identify as First Nations, Métis and Inuit is highlighted in recognition of our unique relationship and responsibility to First Peoples, to reconciliation, to honouring the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada Calls to Action and to implementing the principles endorsed by Canada in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Learn more about the actions we are taking in the OCDSB Indigenous, Equity and Human Rights Roadmap.

Applying the learning in OCDSB Schools

Below are a few examples of how schools are reflecting on these important issues:

Broadview Public School engaged in learning to revise the school’s land acknowledgement practices and create opportunities for classes to write personalized land acknowledgements. With support from the OCDSB Indigenous Education Team, students took part in conversations, reading, visualizations and other activities to learn, reflect, and share their gratitude. Read the story.

Students at Lisgar Collegiate Institute, Broadview Public School and Bayshore Public School joined the 2021 CBC Music Class Challenge. They learned about  Indigenous traditions and language while sharing their interpretations of the Anishinaabe/Ojibwe song "Ode'min Giizis (Strawberry Moon).” Watch their performances.

In October 2021, Cairine Wilson Secondary School held its second annual Walk for Wenjack, raising $6,058.30, and launched a series of video conversations with Indigenous community members and allies. Read the story here.

Pleasant Park Public School launched the Social Justice Committee, a student voice forum where students can share their ideas and concerns with administrators and educators, and work collaboratively toward a more inclusive, safe, and welcoming school community. Find out more about the Committee’s work.

Have students at your school demonstrated a commitment to reconciliation and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action? Send us an email at [email protected] to let us know what they’ve been up to.

Read more school news stories

Resources and Additional Information

Mental Health Resources: There are a number of resources within the OCDSB and within the community available to support the mental health and well-being of Indigenous students and families. Learn more here.

Indigenous Education: The OCDSB is committed to working with First Nations, Inuit and Métis community members in the Ottawa-Gatineau region to ensure that First Nations, Métis, and Inuit students have opportunities and resources to achieve academic success and to further their personal well-being. Visit our Indigenous Education page to learn more about supports for students and families or to meet our team.

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