Especially in a year when many people are celebrating the 150th anniversary of Canada’s Confederation, a holiday like Thanksgiving can pose challenges to communities concerned with honouring Indigenous perspectives and with the process of reconciliation. Students of The YMCA Academy worked to meet such challenges in preparing for our Feast of Thanks.
Students from Katie’s Aboriginal Voices English class presented to the whole school their research and ideas on the Indigenous past and present of the Toronto area, as well as inquiring into the question of how to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday in a way that is inclusive and respectful of Indigenous experiences and perspectives. Several students even read an original short story they had written collaboratively to further address these issues. With the potluck feast set up in the cafeteria, we were treated to foods ranging from savoury turkey and roasted vegetables to homemade donuts and pumpkin pie! Our thanks to the dozens of families that contributed.
As teachers committed to inclusiveness and other social justice principles, we cherish events like this as opportunities for diverse voices to be heard, and for our community to gather together in learning from and sharing with one another. And while students were most vocal in expressing their love of apple pie, they also expressed plenty of thanks for such opportunities, and a desire to learn more.
The Academy community is also thankful for the contributions of students from Brandon’s Drama class, who applied their developing knowledge of set design and props to set up the space for everyone, and to the Literacy class, who had created posters to advertise the event and then helped clean up afterwards.
Of course gratitude should never be confined to just one weekend, but we hope to see this particular tradition of learning, sharing, and thanks continue for years to come.
Check out more photos from this event on our Facebook page!