Checking in with Seven Generations

Elevating a signature RLC program

By Dawn Tabobondung

Aanii Boozhoo

With our return in January, we were all saddened to see the collapse of the Tipi. Many memories and ceremonies took place in it. A teaching I received when it comes to ceremony is that “there is no right way or wrong way for ceremony, it is all about the intention.” Just as when it comes to religion, “there is no right religion or wrong religion, it's about respecting all peoples faith here on Mother Earth.” In saying this I would like to say Chi-Miigwetch (big thank you) to our students from Temagami First Nation Wyatt, Tristan and staff member Dan Hedges for helping with a small ceremony where we laid the tipi poles to rest. We thanked them for the work they did here on campus and the goodness that came from them by offering tobacco to each pole as we laid it back down on Mother Earth. We thanked the canvas for the protection it provided for us while using the tipi. But this is a sign that it is time for a change, and we look forward to creating a new space for us here at RLC.

Indigenous Studies May Term Course

Winter is a time for slowing down and relaxing. For myself, it will be a busy time preparing for May Term. Ms. Rand and I will be teaching Indigenous Studies. The theme for this Indigenous course will be “Where We Come From.” We will begin with the stars, which, in Indigenous belief, is where we originate. The students will hear the teachings of the Star System and have the opportunity to stargaze while camping within the First Nations Territories.

The course will also touch on key moments in our shared history: The Doctrine of Discovery, The Royal Proclamation, and The Indian Act and Treaty. This will be presented along with Teachings from Elders, virtually and in person. Our focus will be the local history of the First Nations around RLC, including the history of our campus with the Indigenous People who live within the area of RLC. We will also be traveling offsite to visit Local First Nations communities. I hope to empower the students to look beyond and to understand the need for Reconciliation, here and around the world.

We will also look at prophecies from Great Chiefs of Turtle Island. We'll learn about pictographs, and we hope to visit sites here in Ontario. We will travel to Toronto to visit the Royal Ontario Museum and to take a walking tour of Indigenous sites within the city guided by First Nations descendants.

I am also hoping to do my spring fast here on campus, which will allow the students to learn from my experience as well the importance of ceremony to self, family and community.

Gathering Our Bundles

I have created a partnership with Gathering Our Bundles, allowing opportunities to work with them and engage with their programming. On February 11, 2023, we will be joining them at Springwater Park in Midhurst for the Biboon Celebration. It will be a full day that will include dog sledding, storytelling, archery, Atlatl, snowshoe races, pie tag, snow snake, drumming, snacks and much more. Of course, there will also be lots of laughter.

Land-Based Teachings (Outdoor Education) with First Nations

I am putting the final touches on partnerships with Shawanaga and Wasauksing First Nation for Outdoor Education along with Mr. Smith. Students will be given many opportunities to receive teachings in trapping, hunting, spear fishing and just getting to know their community.

Climate Action Accelerator Program (CAAP)

Our school has joined the Climate Action Accelerator Program. I am very excited about this. It is a three-year commitment and involves helping Mother Earth and much more. Keep an eye out for more details coming soon. To find out how you as a parent can get involved and join our team on this initiative, please reach out to me.

Seven Generations Committee

The Seven Generations Committee that Mr. Hedges and I oversee are currently planning the RLC Pow Wow, 2023, along with other events within the school community. Mark your calendars for June 7th and join us at our Annual Pow Wow. I would love to see your smiling faces and share the culture. There is going to be lots of dancing, drumming, Indigenous food, and the best medicine ever: lots of laughter. This year we will be inviting vendors to come share their creations. The Pow Wow is open to all.

Seven Generations in the Foundation Years

Working with the Foundation Years in the First Semester has been the greatest opportunity for me. In my culture we believe that the children are our teachers. I am looking forward to being back with them for the Second Semester. We will continue the teachings on the Seven Grandfather Teachings and continue with the Helping Hand and Helping Mother Earth program too.

Birch Bark Canoe Build

In preparation for the May Term, I have been engaging and creating partnerships with the Anishnaabek Youth Biosphere. Through that partnership I hope to build RLC’s first Birch Bark Canoe with the students. I would love to see a Birch Bark Canoe for every class when they go on outtrips in September. Can you imagine that? I sure can.

Native Language Teacher

I am also busy looking for a Native Language Teacher for the next school year. Unfortunately, I do not know my language, and speak just a little bit. There are many knowledge holders out there with the language and I am confident that I will find someone. Spirit puts us where we are supposed to be and have faith this person will find us here at RLC.

I just would like to express my gratitude to the RLC Community including all their families around the globe. You certainly fill my cup and that is the best anyone could ask for.

Chi-Miigwetch (Big Thank you), Baamaapii (see you later)

Ms. T