With a dedication for Indigenous Education and Reconciliation, Upper Canada District School Board (UCDSB) Principal of Indigenous Education Programs, Gail Brant-Terry, was recently honoured with the Indspire Guiding the Journey Indigenous Education Awards in Leadership.
The award recognizes educators who have made valuable contributions to community-based education and honour the principles of Indigenous knowledge.
Her major leadership initiative is leading the UCDSB program, iLead, which engages community elders to share teachings and help students connect to the past. This program has a “teach the teacher” component, and it has inspired educators across the board to add Indigenous content to their lessons. She also co-authored a well-received paper with her daughter on the future of Indigenous education.
A member of the First Nation, Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory, Gail has been in education for 33 years, which includes the past decade with the UCDSB. When she learned of winning the award, she was both surprised and honoured. She says working with the UCDSB has given her the opportunity to nurture her passion for ensuring Indigenous Education and Reconciliation becomes and remains ignited across the school communities, and that she’s proud of the school board’s work.
“UCDSB is known across our province for our work in Indigenous Education. Our two main initiatives, our iLead program and our TRC Gatherings, are the cornerstones of our work that have been going on for many years and I have had the privilege of being able to be a part of continuing to go deeper with this work. I am only able to support everything we do in UCDSB because of the amazing people I get to work with across our system who are deeply invested in the important work of Indigenous Education.”
UCDSB Chair, John McAllister, says Gail’s commitment to bringing Indigenous Education programming into the school board is key to nurturing and building relationships.
“She has an incredible way to bring Indigenous history, culture and traditions to our school board, and introduces key voices from the Indigenous communities. I was pleased to see her in action supporting school initiatives that honoured Indigenous Education, such as the programming happening at the Smiths Falls and District Collegiate Institute,” he says. “We’re proud of Ms. Brant-Terry’s work, and this award is a deserving recognition for her dedication.”
Gail says it’s important to support teachers in their Truth and Conciliation Commission (TRC) program planning.
“Indigenous Education is about connecting the heart and the mind and being open to your own learning and often relearning. It requires people to embark on a personal learning journey where they have to individually invest the time in learning a history they were never taught in school, nurture relationships to engage with cultural advisors and commit to using authentic resources by Indigenous authors where the teachings are respected and honoured.”
When it comes to future Indigenous education and knowledge keeping across the UCDSB school communities, Gail Brant-Terry has a vision.
“I would love to know that Indigenous students see themselves, their culture and traditions in our schools and non-Indigenous students have deep intercultural understanding, empathy and mutual respect. Ultimately, when you walk into every school in our board, you see and feel that honouring Indigenous ways of knowing and being matters.”
Gail Brant-Terry will be recognized for her award at the Indspire Guiding the Journey Indigenous Education Award Ceremony on November 26, 2020.