By Dean Smith. 

Dean Smith is a proud member of the Mi’maq Pictou Landing First Nation. He acknowledges that he is a visitor that works and lives on the traditional territory of the Mississauga Annishnabe.   

“There is no reconciliation without truth and we will only come together if we can understand effects of past wrongs in order to build positive, respectful, and meaningful relationships to return land, help heal trauma, and allow us return to and value our own culture, identities, and autonomy.”

- Indigenous Youth Survey Respondent; Road Map to TRC 66


There has been a lot of talk about Reconciliation in our country but most of the focus has been on what adults have to say.  Youth, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, need to have the safe and genuinely respected space to share their thoughts, vision, and questions if this idea is ever going to be something sustainable and meaningful.


I have spent my entire teaching career of almost 30 years as a teacher-coach and youth group advisor because our youth have always been my priority.  My role as an Indigenous Education Consultant allows me to use and build on this experience every day - I am humbled and honoured to have this responsibility.

I am so lucky for the patience and wisdom of my friend, colleague and Elder, Melody Crowe, from Alderville First Nation, and her ongoing sharing with me about the Anishinaabeg Medicine Wheel and 7 Grandfather Gifts. These teachings have changed my life. I believe that putting these gifts into daily practice is essential if we are to empower our youth. 


Here is a small sampling of how this work looks in the Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board in keeping with our Principles of Indigenous Education:


  • At Adam Scott CVI, students from one of their NBE (Contemporary Indigenous Voices) English classes raised funds to support the Native Women’s Association of Canada’s Sisters in Spirit program and the We Matter Campaign.

  • A new book club has started at the Carriage House School, which offers a protected learning space for our homeless youth, featuring Métis author Jesse Thistle’s novel, Up From the Ashes. Jesse has offered to Skype with us too!!

  • Youth leaders from Curve Lake First Nation and Hiawatha First Nation recently collaborated with KPRDSB and a number of municipalities in the writing and signing of the historical Ezhi-Wiijikiwendiyang Friendship Accord.

  • KPRDSB’s Director’s Indigenous Youth Advisory Group recently gathered and heard the inspirational story of Alderville First Nation’s Jordan Mowat’s life challenges and his ongoing work as an Indigenous Student Support work.

  • Bowmanville HS NBE students created podcasts and have started sharing them under the hashtag #wokesettler.

  • Finally, many of our schools are moving forward with Indigenous Student Advisory Groups that will work to develop leadership capacity training in an active manner.  This initiative is in collaboration with Trent University’s Oshkwazin Youth Leadership program.


Chi-miigwech, we’lalioq for letting me share our work on behalf of our Indigenous Education Department.



Sources/Further Reading:


A Roadmap to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Call to Action #66 ( - no copyright infringement is intended