Celebrating National Aboriginal Day

Celebrating National Aboriginal Day

Aboriginal Teacher Education Program members take part in National Aboriginal Day celebration.

By Chris Moffatt Armes

June 21, 2016


As Kingstonians gathered today at City Hall for the annual National Aboriginal Day celebrations, members of the Faculty of Education encouraged all members of the Queen’s community to join and recognize the important contributions of Aboriginal peoples.

That same thread of learning through shared experience is interwoven throughout the Faculty of Education, where the Aboriginal Teacher Education Program (ATEP) offers a wide range of services to support Aboriginal teacher candidates, while also providing the opportunity for non-ATEP enrolled candidates, graduate students, faculty and staff to learn about Aboriginal practices, culture and education.

“I think one of the exciting things about the activities our faculty holds and attends is the increasing level of knowledge about Aboriginal culture our students – Aboriginal and allies alike – are able to gain as the year unfolds,” says Kate Freeman, the program manager for ATEP. “There’s a lot of peer learning that can go on and sharing that happens as well.”

Currently, all teacher candidates receive instruction in Native Studies and Aboriginal education. The faculty also works to infuse other curriculum areas with aspects of Indigenous education – to encourage students to think of Aboriginal education in a broader context and to seek out other opportunities to include Aboriginal content in their classrooms.

The ATEP office also hosts a weekly smudging ceremony and operates a sacred medicine garden. The ATEP resource centre is also made available for students who may need to smudge or speak with an Elder if they’re in distress, and it offers Aboriginal education resources to all students and faculty at the Faculty of Education. Throughout the academic year the program hosts events that support and educate about Aboriginal education, such as guest speakers, Q&A’s or campus events such as Orange Shirt Day in recognition of residential school survivors or a drum circle to mark the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report.

“Someone asked me one time why the celebration is held at City Hall, on the concrete in Springer Market Square. I said because we can,” says Paul Carl, Administrative Assistant at ATEP. “We can smudge, we can have our sacred fire there, we can celebrate and enjoy ourselves and that connection between the community us. For me it’s because we can.”

Launched in 1991, ATEP is one of the longest-running and most comprehensive programs of its kind in Ontario. The program aims to provide support for teacher candidates and to improve knowledge and understanding of issues in Aboriginal education. For more information on ATEP, please visit the website.