Topics covered in this post:
1. Happy Thanksgiving
School and daycare closed Monday, October 11
In her book, Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teaching of Plants, Dr. Robin Wall Kimmerer, enrolled member of the Citizens of Potawatomi Nation, writes about the Thanksgiving Address as "a river of words as old as the people themselves, known more accurately in the Onondaga language as the Words That Come Before All Else.” She explains how this “ancient order of protocol sets gratitude as the highest priority”. We hope you will find the time this long weekend to recite and reflect on this “invocation of gratitude” as a family (in developmentally appropriate ways). It reminds us that we have much to be grateful and that we are blessed by knowing we have everything we need. At the JICS Lab School, our aim is to educate children in a culture in which gratitude is the first priority.
2. Curriculum Night
We are proud to be a community of parents and teachers who work in partnership to support and enhance the learning of each student. Our program and teaching reflect our belief that students have different needs at different developmental stages. Our approach is both rigorous and flexible, encouraging the construction of knowledge by teaching students to formulate questions, analyze, and solve problems by sharing their theories, listening to the theories of others, researching, critiquing, taking risks, testing out ideas and building knowledge collaboratively. Thank you for participating in Curriculum Night last night. For parents with multiple children who couldn’t attend each grade teachers’ presentation, we have provided video recordings that will be available until October 15. Not all classes were able to record; parents please be in touch with teachers of those grades for an alternate way to hear the information.
3. October is LGBT History Month
LGBT History Month celebrates the achievements of LGBTQ2S+ Icons. Each day in October, a new icon is featured with a video, bio, bibliography, downloadable images and other resources in the https://lgbthistorymonth.com website. LGBT History Month is also an observance of LGBTQ2S+ history, and the history of the gay rights and related civil rights movements. It was founded in 1994 by Missouri high-school history teacher Rodney Wilson. JICS students will have the opportunity to learn about the important contributions of LGBTQ2S+ community. We believe it is important to celebrate and learn from each other to foster a greater sense of belonging for all.
4. COVID-19 Updates - Travelling
If you are planning to travel with your child, please note that according to Public Health, any unvaccinated child who travels outside the country will need to not attend school for 14 days upon return.
TPH screening (updated Sept 1, 2021):
If the child/student travelled outside of Canada in the last 14 days:
The child/student must follow federal guidelines for quarantine and testing after returning from international travel.
If the child/student is fully vaccinated they may be exempt from federal quarantine. If the child/student is not fully vaccinated, they are not to attend school/child care for 14 days, even if they traveled with a vaccinated companion.
We cannot provide hybrid learning for children while they are away due to travel. We thank you for your understanding.
5. PFLAG Workshop
October 14, 2021 | 7:00pm
The first JICS PA Parent Education event of the school year is taking place via Zoom on Thursday, October 14 from 7-8 pm. Please join us for a workshop put on by PFLAG Toronto, which will focus on inclusive parenting and how to create an affirming environment for your child, and children in general, on topics related to gender identity and sexual orientation.
There will be a 30 minute presentation followed by a Q & A/discussion period. We highly recommend that all parents attend. RSVP HERE FOR PFLAG WORKSHOP
6. Feasting the JICS Bundle
By Krista Spence, Carol Stephenson, and Doug Anderson
The JICS Lab School has had long-standing relationships with many Indigenous communities, collaborating in a reciprocal relationship of learning in the subjects of math, land-based education, and teacher education. We have benefited immensely from the wisdom of our Indigenous friends in Curve Lake First Nation, Aroland First Nation, and Rainy River First Nations and we hope we have been a resource to them as well.
Twelve years ago, Brent Tookenay and other members of The Seven Generations Educational Institute, an Aboriginal-owned and controlled institution co-founded by the ten bands in the Rainy Lake Tribal area in Treaty 3 territory, offered a Bundle to the JICS Robertson Program and the JICS Lab School. The Bundle is a Teaching bundle that contained items of significance, a basket with special cloths, an animal pelt, a shell, as well as traditional plant medicines (sweet grass and sage).
Brent was familiar with the Robertson Program’s work in various public schools in and around Fort Francis (Ont), and gave the Bundle to create relationship between Robertson, the Lab School and Mikinaak Onigaming School in Nestor Falls.
Visits were made to Onigaming by Robertson Program and JICS Lab School staff, but the bundle itself lay dormant, though in a place of honour as we did not fully understand its significance.
In the past five years, we have begun to learn more: the protocols for the care of the Bundle and the relationships that it represents.
The Bundle has been present at important JICS gatherings. On March 1, 2018, the Bundle was used in ceremony for the book release of Natural Curiosity, 2nd Edition: The Importance of Indigenous Perspectives in Children’s Environmental Inquiry with keynote speaker, Dr. Niigaan Sinclair, Anishinaabe (St. Peter's/Little Peguis), Professor in Native Studies, University of Mantioba. It was also used in Ceremony during the opening of our new building on January 26, 2018. Elder Nancy Jones from Nigigoonsiminikaaning First Nations, and Elder Mike Kabatay from Seine River First Nation blessed the JICS building.
More recently, Krista Spence, Librarian, and Doug Anderson, Indigenous Teacher, have taken the Bundle to Elder Jacque(line) Lavalley, Ojibwe Traditional Gikoomis from Shawanaga First Nation East Shore of Georgian Bay, and Elder Rev. Andrew Wesley, Mushkegouk/Omushkego Cree from James Bay, who work in the University community with questions about how it could function within a school, how it is to be used and treated. The advice has been to bring out the Bundle, to sew cloth bags for it, to have it out when students are learning about Indigenous teachings, and to take care of it by Feasting the Bundle a few times a year. Doug and Krista have worked with students over the years to plant, care for, and harvest the medicine plants that are to be included in the Bundle. Cloth bags have been made by students and teachers, and elements of the Bundle have been properly cleaned and cared for.
Earlier this year, close to the Spring Equinox, on March 22, 2021, a small group of adults gathered in the Courtyard, where Doug Anderson lit the fire. Invited attendees included two of the original recipients of the Bundle who have since retired, Dr. Bev Caswell and Dr. Joan Moss of the Robertson Math and Science Institute. Natural Curiosity was represented by Rosa Na, and many Lab School teachers and staff were also present. Bev Caswell shared a special message from one of the original gifters of the Bundle, Mr. Brent Tookenay, now CEO of Seven Generations Education Institute and recipient of the Governor General’s Meritorious Service Decoration. Brent shared that this Spring feasting was a rekindling of relationship between our communities and he hopes we will be working together again this upcoming year; to plan collaboratively and further connect with the educators and students that are part of the Seven Generations team at their new campus at Rainy River First Nation.
Recently, we feasted the bundle again, close to the Fall Equinox, on September 30, 2021 with JICS students from SK to Grade Six. Each class sat around the fire pit class and had conversations with Doug about the collaborative work they would be doing in the upcoming years. Doug believes that the bundle represents a powerful commitment to work in partnership with and support indigenous communities, in ways that are increasingly defined by the original covenants and laws of the land, and which transcend typical Canadian institutional frameworks and schedules. He asked the students about their questions, and answered what he could. He also asked the students to remember these important questions, and that we would be working on answering them together over their years at JICS.
We look forward to continuing to learn together and build relationships based on commitments to the covenants that this Bundle represents, and exploring its place and purpose within and beyond our school community.
7. Orange Shirt Day Reflections from the Grade 4s
I think we should learn from Indigenous Peoples and share the land with each other and that we should come together in a community.
Orange Shirt Day is about a little girl named Phyllis who got a brand new orange shirt. When she went to Residential School, they took her orange shirt away. This is Canadian history. Residential Schools may have been our past but we can make our own future.
Those schools, those rules. I’ll never understand. Freedom wings Many kids did not have. Going where so many of them went. Most of their language and culture was gone. They weeded out all beliefs and some Never turned back to the way they were before the change. I hope we can learn from our mistakes and all survivors have A good rest of their lives.
Residential Schools might be dead But Indigenous People still live with dread From names to numbers It once was. They were not fed enough So their time there was very tough. This school like a prison, Every day that went by Their hope of going home had arisen. Every Child Matters.
Students in Grade 6 took a day trip to Toronto Island last Friday in place of the annual Sandbanks camping trip:
In partnership with Ellie, the Grade 1s have been focusing on kindness. The children each got a secret kindness buddy and they were to do an act of kindness for that buddy (i.e. help them when they got hurt, invite them to play, make them something), the children had lots of ideas!
The following week, the class got together and revealed their kindness buddy, said what kind thing they did, and then threw the yarn to them (while holding a piece). By the end, they were all connected by kindness and it was a great way to show how the class is a community and each person impacts each other and need to help and support each other:
Upcoming October Events
Mon 11 – Thanksgiving. School and Daycare closed.
Tues 12 – Gr 5 & Gr 6 Parent “Transition to Gr 7” Night. Online.
Thurs 14 – Parent Education: PFLAG Workshop (RSVP)
Mon 18 – Persons Day
Tues 19 – JICS PA All-Parents Meeting. Online.
Wed 20 – Memorial for Cindy Halewood (RSVP)
Thurs 21 – Launch of JICS Parenting Workshop Series with Social Worker, Ellie Lathrop (details coming soon)
Fri 29 – Halloween at JICS (details coming soon)