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Innovation through Inclusion: Indigenous Awareness Training for English Language Learners

  • Innovation through Inclusion

The following blog was written by Nadia Khan, a faculty member at the School of Global Access.

The School of Global Access was invited to share information about a recent project at the 2018 Alberta Integration Summit. We were one of nine service providers that participated in the Innovative Practices in Settlement and Integration session that focused on innovative practices to facilitate the integration of newcomers

The School of Global Access shared information about the Indigenous Awareness for English Language Learners Initiative which focuses on creating Indigenous awareness for English language learners at Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 4. 

The initiative, now running for the second year, has been developed to connect ELL learners to knowledge and resources and to create awareness about Indigenous communities and cultures through experiential learning activities that include interaction with Indigenous knowledge keepers and Indigenous Elders.

At the presentation, the need for such a course, the process of material and resource development, and ideas for activities that focus on interaction with Indigenous communities were shared with settlement agencies across Alberta. Existing materials and resources around this theme often assume historical knowledge of the reader and often use complex language which CLB 4 learners find difficult. The presentation highlighted the three critical pieces involved in material development: needs assessment, collaboration with Indigenous experts, knowledge keepers and Elders, and reflection.  

We shared practical ideas and suggestions developed in consultation with Indigenous experts to create and enhance awareness among newcomers about Indigenous cultures, ways of life, and about issues faced by Indigenous communities. We also shared community connections that the School of Global Access and the learners have been able to build through this course. 

This course is a small step towards answering the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s calls to action that are relevant to the need for creating awareness among newcomers. 

Participants were encouraged to be inspired by the 150 Acts of Reconciliationand use some of these to practice self-reflection and to develop awareness about Indigenous cultures and communities around them.

The role of collaboration and reflection in fostering inclusion were highlighted through this presentation, and participants acknowledged the need for such interactive courses for newcomers to Canada in order build relationships and make connections between newcomers and Indigenous communities.