Indigenization Process

Headmaster's address on Indigenization

Dear Selwyn House Community,

It is with great pleasure that I introduce to you the indigenization process at Selwyn House School. Aligned with our Veritas vision, supporting the school’s mission and embodying our educational philosophy, the administration team and I are unanimously committed to this significant initiative. Through this multi-year process, our vision is to incorporate Indigenous ways of knowing, being, doing, and relating into the educational, organizational, cultural and social structures of the school. It is essential that this is done in a sustainable, personalized, and meaningful way.

Since the publication of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) summary report on residential schools in 2015, there has been an awakening to the true history of Canada, as well as the contemporary issues that Indigenous peoples face across our nation. Our awakening here at Selwyn House has been many years in the making. While we have had Indigenous students within our community for decades, our most recent catalyst for change comes from lessons learned in the development of our outdoor education program.

We have recently taken some introductory steps in our long-term commitment to indigenizing our school. In 2019, we formed an Indigenous Student Committee (ISC), with the aim of better supporting our Indigenous students at SHS. We also began working with Wahiakatste Diome-Deer, educational consultant, who has joined our team to help us develop our indigenization plan. For many months, she has been collaborating with our Director of Experiential Education, Courtney Prieur, and Coordinator of Outdoor Education, Cory Deegan and me to develop concrete objectives for meaningful change.

As a nation, we have been called to action to prioritize the recommendations set forth by the TRC. This process is a commitment that recognizes our dedication to anti-racism education. It does not take away from our efforts to embrace multiculturalism. In fact, we can and should be engaged with both simultaneously.

Indigenization benefits all of us. It is neither a uniquely Indigenous issue, nor is it undertaken only for the benefit of Indigenous students. Through this process, the Selwyn House community as a whole will gain a richer understanding of the world and of our place within it becoming more aware of Indigenous knowledge and perspectives. Through this approach, we are committing to a more just future for all.

Michael Downey
How can I participate?

Significance of our Banner - The Two row wampum

This belt symbolizes the agreement and conditions under which the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) welcomed the settler peoples to this land. The two rows symbolize two paths or two vessels, traveling down the same river of life together. One, a birch bark canoe, for Indigenous peoples, their laws, their customs, and their ways of life. The other, a ship for settler peoples, their laws, their customs, and their ways of life. In this agreement, neither people will make compulsory laws or interfere in the internal affairs of the other. In other words, both vessels will remain independent and neither will try to steer the other’s vessel. (Tehanetorens. Wampum Belts of the Iroquois. Summertown, TN: The Book Publishing Company, 1999.) Historically, wampum belts served as credentials or as certificates of authority. Wampum guaranteed a message or a promise, so much so that treaties with settlers meant nothing unless they were accompanied by wampum. Belts were given and received at treaties as seals of friendship.