This past August, Queen’s student Olivia Rondeau launched a free online resource to help educators introduce Indigenous content to the classroom.
Her website, Teaching Aboriginal Education, includes lesson plans about residential schools and empathy in the classroom.
The site also includes links to community teaching resources and Rondeau’s personal blog, where she shares her ideas about teaching Indigenous content.
She got the idea for the website this past summer when she completed a class project focused on how teachers can help each other learn about Indigenous culture and history from one another.
Rondeau, who has mixed Mohawk and French heritage, earned a degree in Child and Youth Studies and Dramatic Arts from Brock University before joining the Queen’s Consecutive Education program.
She noticed some teachers might feel uncomfortable educating students on Indigenous topics such as residential schools.
“I created this website to make an in-between place where people could go and look and say ‘okay, this is the kind of lesson plan I could do or this is how I can incorporate Indigenous content into my classroom and these are some of the people that could help me do that,’” she told The Journal in a phone interview.
Originally, Rondeau produced the content in form of a book.
“I got a lot of really good feedback from my peers and that’s why I decided to take what I made in the book and put it online,” she said. “There’s a lot of support available for teachers to help them learn more about Aboriginal education and how to teach it.”
Rondeau believes it’s important to have Indigenous representation in every classroom and across all subjects to create a more inclusive environment.
“When kids feel like they’re represented they might be more inclined to want to succeed in school,” she said.
“There’s very low graduation rates for Indigenous students. It’s really important that teachers recognize that, even though your students may not identify to you that they’re Indigenous, you’re always going to have someone in your class who is Indigenous.”
Over the summer, the province cancelled a project to update Indigenous content in school curriculums—making Rondeau’s website especially relevant.
“I think right now, especially with the Ford government, the truth and reconciliation curriculum has been put on pause,” Rondeau said. “There were some really good initiatives being taken and there was some really good content being put into those curriculums to help recognize Indigenous perspectives, experiences, and culture.”
Rondeau told The Journal that some educators have already found the website helpful, including a social worker from Kingston Penitentiary, who’s using the content to teach about helping at-risk Indigenous youth.
Thanks to the site’s popularity, Rondeau plans to continue updating it throughout the year and is currently working on a counting lesson that will include Indigenous artwork.
“It comes down to taking initiative and really seeing more leadership out there when it comes to incorporating [Indigenous content] into the curriculum,” she said.
This article incorrectly referred to Rondeau as a ConEd student. She is in Consecutive Education.
The Journal regrets the error
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