CGS Professional Development Blog
Glenbow Museum- Indigenous Studies
On January 27, Calgary Girls’ School faculty attended a powerful session at the Glenbow Museum, led by facilitator Adrian Wolfleg. This session included a blanket ceremony that walked participants through the complex history of Indigenous people in Canada. Through the facilitation, Adrian shared stories about growing up as an Indigenous person in Canada that revealed uncomfortable truths and universal struggles. A guided gallery walk concluded the professional development at the Glenbow and included curriculum connections, personal stories and further exploration of history. The histories shared were both the commonly told and understood history of Canada and the Americas, and the darker history of Canada’s Indigenous people and their relationship with explorers and settlers.
“I really connected with the idea that all across the world, and across history, we have looked at the same stars. We just connect the dots differently. We see them in different ways. This revealed something about worldview that I feel would also resonate with our students.”
“The symbolism of the butterfly and the tadpole was powerful. I like the idea of using this symbolism in our classrooms to introduce or deepen understandings around metaphor and visual literacy.”
“Adrian Wolfleg provided an authentic and candid storytelling of this life and the First Nations experience.”
“The things that stood out were the things they don’t report, or talk about. It made me think about how much I don’t know. And that I will have to teach it.”
“Really seeing how closely related our own student work was to the work of Kelly Mellings and the partnership with USAY [see exhibit description below] was fascinating.”
Adrian Wolfleg – Glenbow Facilitator and Elder
Adrian has been a First Nations Educator at the Glenbow Museum for the past three years but his history with Glenbow goes all the way back to his time as a volunteer docent in 1989. His background as a History Major as well as service with the military and a strong link to arts organizations means he is the perfect fit for sharing stories in almost every area of the Glenbow! His work as an educator in the Niitsitapiisini Gallery is layered with family connections. His mother, grandmother, and aunts are all pictured in the gallery as well as objects and plants that he has used throughout his life. For Adrian, this makes the space more like “home” than a gallery in a museum.
Glenbow’s collection contains Indigenous artifacts from around the world, with a particular and unique focus on material from Treaty 7 territory and Blackfoot culture.
From teaching about traditional ways of life to examining the issues around reconciliation, Glenbow’s programs are designed to ensure that authentic and factual knowledge is being transferred. Blackfoot programs are delivered by Elders and traditional knowledge keepers.
Niitsitapiisinni: Our Way of Life
The Blackfoot Gallery
Journey through the Blackfoot Gallery: Niitsitapiisinni: Our Way of Life. Uncover the traditions, values, and history of these people, who have lived for thousands of years in the northwestern plains of Alberta and Montana. The Blackfoot share their story through interactive displays and artifacts and through a circular narrative path that guides visitors through Nitsitapii history. This innovative permanent gallery, the culmination of 10 years of collaboration and friendship, showcases artifacts from Glenbow’s world-renowned Blackfoot collections.
Power in Pictures: The Outside Circle and the Impact of the Graphic Novel
June 18, 2016 – Spring 2017
Organized by Glenbow; curated by Joanne Schmidt
The Power in Pictures exhibition is the culmination of a series of workshops hosted at Glenbow that connected young people from USAY (Urban Society of Aboriginal Youth) with artist Kelly Mellings, illustrator of the graphic novel The Outside Circle by Patti LaBoucane-Benson. Participants were encouraged to tap into their own creativity to create comics and masks that drew on their own experiences to tell a story. A shared and collaborative space, the gallery features the art created by the USAY participants hung alongside that of the artist who taught them, creating a space where complex feelings and experiences are explored through art.
The Calgary Girls’ School continues to explore and reflect on Indigenous studies, the legacies of residential schools and the idea that we are all Treaty people. Following are some questions that were introduced during the professional development for consideration.
- In the Truth and Reconciliation Commissions Calls for Action, it is noted that, “every Canadian child must understand this dark history.” How do you understand the legacy of residential schools? Why does the report recommend this action? How do you feel about addressing this action through education?
- What are your thoughts about land claims and treaties? Does it matter to our teaching that a successful land claim by a First Nation may have negative effects on our material well-being?
- What does it mean that, “We are all Treaty people?” How do you embody this in your professional and personal lives?
- What do we all need to move forward confidently in the spirit of reconciliation?
- This morning we spent time learning about Canada’s complex history. What do you love to share with students about Canada’s history? What are you uncomfortable sharing about Canada’s history?
- What celebrations do you see, as a result of the session this morning? There has been significant focus on residential schools and the difficult legacy of cultural genocide. What else do you want to bring into your classroom (or have brought into your classroom) that brings light and hope to this story?
I was struck by the simple yet powerful way Adrian Wolfleg used geometric shapes to represent the issues stemming from residential schools. I have attached a crude facsimile of those shapes for you to use at your discretion with your students. If you need a quick refresher just drop me a line and I will help you out. Sorry it is in three files; blame it on me being a luddite.
Our 2017 Professional Learning Retreat was engaging and thought provoking as we deepened our experience and understanding of Maker Spaces. Intellectually stimulating, our retreat also provided discussion and process that helped us to know and understand one another better. This collaboration was invaluable to our work as a learning team!
Following is a note from one of our facilitators which includes resources we may draw from in our work with students.
Hello Calgary Girls’ School Staff,
It was tremendous to have the opportunity to learn with you during your 2017 Staff Retreat. We really enjoyed your passion, energy and ideas. The students at Calgary Girls’ School are a fortunate group to get to learn with you.
Photos: View and download photos from your 2017 retreat here.
Compass Points Activity – about preferences in group work
TASK – by Oliver Herring (Gever Tulley did this with his students at the start of the year at Brightworks.)
Improv Games – lots of examples of warm-up improv games with clear instructions
Forced Analogies – a more individual version than the one we led, same concept
Futurecasting – brief description from the strategic planning perspective
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch.
All the best,