SIIT taking truth to reconciliation through series of workshops
- EFN Staff | April 20, 2017
The Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) are a priority for the Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies (SIIT). When Kathleen Worme, Manager of Workforce Development for SIIT first reviewed the calls, she immediately looked at them in the perspective of training workshops.
“What I found was these Calls to Action spanned across every sector – health, justice, education, economic development, and so on. Training is needed to ensure that the people in each sector really understand why Aboriginal people live the way they do.”
An opportunity to build a program around this idea presented itself and SIIT welcomed the challenge. SIIT has written and developed teaching curriculum around the history and legacy of Residential Schools in Saskatchewan including the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Calls to Action. “We hired a curriculum writer and worked diligently to ensure that the content was developed in such a way that reflected the history of Residential Schools in Saskatchewan.”
Through this one of a kind curriculum, education and training on the history and legacy of residential schools will be used internally for SIIT to better serve their students. “The main goal is to unite everyone in a common and shared understanding about where our students are coming from.”
This is a step towards the TRC recommendation to maximize student success through reconciliation. Engaging in a plan of action, the training will have an inventory of support resources while maintaining a culturally responsive attitude throughout. “There are currently three facilitators, Charlotte Ross, Janice Linklater, and Dion Tootoosis. We offer emotional/cultural support on-site during the training through the resolution Health Support Workers. We also ensure that we have at least one elder present for the duration of each session,” said Worme.
A pilot of the program was launched in January and engaged the Saskatoon, Regina, and Prince Albert City Police, University of Saskatchewan, University of Regina, Great Plains College and the City of Saskatoon. “The two day workshop went over really well.” Some comments from those who attended include, “[I] liked that that the content was presented in all its complexity and not “dumbed-down” or simplified unrealistically. The elders are interesting to listen [to] and what an impact their stories have.”
The next session took place for SIIT internal staff to better understand how to create student success. Kathleen sees this as a tool to “combat racism, instill empathy and compassion for the plight of indigenous people in Saskatchewan.”
The From Truth to Reconciliation Program provides flexibility that can be applied across industries. It has a train the trainer model that can be a useful takeaway for leaders in various organizations. “It is fluid, open and always evolving. You could take this training over and over and the intangibles, such as class composition, facilitator and elder knowledge allow for unexpected outcomes in each learning experience.”
SIIT recognizes that the legacy of residential school experience and the inter-generational trauma resulting from decades of cultural loss has been present in reducing student potential. With the release of the TRC report, the magnitude of this harm is apparent. Kathleen speaks passionately about the value of the program, “Ultimately this type of training is for those who are interested in learning the truth.”