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Settling into the winter months here in Southern Ontario means we try to enjoy some outdoor activities in the snow, as well as finding ways to reclaim the warmth when we come back inside. With my family, this means good novels and board games, with my students it means books to engage our imaginations and activities to keep us moving.
In my classroom, we have been learning about some of the ways that communities in Canada embrace the winter months. Learning about the rich history of Inuit games and activities enjoyed by the communities across Nunangat has inspired my students to want to know more. I knew exactly how I could satisfy their curiosity.
I was fortunate enough — and thrilled — to be one of the teachers who won the 49th Teachers/Inhabit Education Nunavummi Reading Series giveaway. I received a box of gorgeous books. In the box, were books that I knew would be the perfect additions to the collection of books that I use to integrate Indigenous histories and perspectives into my classroom program. One, in particular, had a special role to play.
Last week, I gathered my students on the carpet and revealed the book I had been waiting to share with them: Inuit Games by Thomas Anguti Johnston and illustrated by Sigmundur Thorgeirsson (available in English and Inuktitut). We paced ourselves with the reading of this book and paused to play the strength games. They were eager to give the kicking games a try and so we began a conversation about how we could safely try them out inside, and outside, the classroom.
As a teacher with a strong commitment to integrating Indigenous histories and perspectives, I am aware of the protocols involved in communicating information about a culture and community that I am not a part of. I was unable to make a connection with someone from the Indigenous community to be involved in our learning.
Instead, I made sure to draw my students’ attention to the role that a book written by an Inuit author has in contributing an authentic voice to our learning.
We are excited to extend our learning to our school community and will be hosting a First Nations, Metis, Inuit Games Day in our school in February. Sharing this legacy of games and inspiring new ways to enjoy the winter has engaged my students in learning — with the potential to also build an authentic awareness of our cultural diversity in Canada.
Monique Cadieux is a Grade 3 /4 teacher at Victory Public School in Guelph, Ontario.