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 ɫ. 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 (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

Teioháte Kaswenta (the Two Row Wampum), solemnized in 1613 between the Haudenosaunee Confederacy and Dutch settlers in traditional Haudenosaunee territory, is widely recognized as the first formalized peace treaty agreement between European settlers and Indigenous Peoples on Turtle Island (North America). 

The wampum belt envisions a timeless, peaceful friendship between the two parallel treaty partners. The first row of purple Quahog wampum shells represents the settlers in their sailing ship and the second row represents Indigenous nations in their canoe. Both vessels run parallel in the river of life into eternity, neither interfering with the other’s voyage nor trying to steer the other’s vessel. This principle is viewed by Indigenous peoples as fundamental to their relationship with settlers, and is to endure as long as the grass grows, the rivers flow, and the sun rises in the east. 

Teioháte Kaswenta and its underlying principle of mutual respect remain as valuable today as they did in 1613.