By Rick Garrick
SUDBURY–M’Chigeeng’s Kelly Crawford credits her education initiatives on treaty education and strengthening relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people for being nominated for the Premier’s Awards.
The annual awards were launched in 1992 and are administered by Colleges Ontario.
“It was challenging and fun,” Crawford says about developing the Ontario curriculum-linked teacher’s guide for the Grades 1 to 8 resource kit, We Are All Treaty People and Gdoo-Sastamoo Kii Mi, Understanding Our Nation to Nation Relationship: A Practical Secondary Teacher Resource Guide.
“When we look at just having the discussion about treaty and all the thoughts that are around that, I’m always mindful of the Indigenous knowledge piece and what we should be sharing and what we shouldn’t be sharing. I’m always checking in with Elders to make sure that I am staying on the right path. The idea is not to turn everyone into a treaty researcher; the idea is to open up the discussion.”
Crawford, a Canadore College Interactive Multimedia Post-Diploma graduate, also developed additional resources for integrating Indigenous knowledge and teachings in the classroom.
“As an educator, in and out of the classroom, I still continue to try to have some sort of a classroom every year,” Crawford says. “Currently I am in administration, so that is a little bit different, but I still continue to teach for the Aboriginal Teacher Education Program through Queen’s [University] and I teach for Canadore College through Kenjgewin Teg [Educational Institute] as well.”
Crawford was nominated for the Community Services category of the Premier’s Awards, one of the various categories which also include Business, Creative Arts and Design, Health Sciences, Recent Graduate, and Technology categories. The 2016 awards gala is scheduled for Nov. 21, at the Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel.
“It’s an honour for sure,” Crawford says. “It definitely caught me off-guard when they contacted me. It’s an honour just to be nominated and to be recognized by a school that I attended.”
Crawford also did communications work with the Anishinabek News while following her education path through Laurentian (Hons BA), Nipissing (BEd) and Athabasca (MAIS) universities. She is currently working on her Ph.D in Human Studies at Laurentian University, as well as the Principal of Academics at Kenjgewin Teg Educational Institute.
“There was one story I was sent to and it was an eagle release on a cliff at 4:30 in the morning,” Crawford says. “After the ceremony and we went to the feast, one of the things that was gifted to me was a feather for telling stories. So I feel that is part of my responsibility. And that is what it all comes down to, whether it’s education or communications or writing or research, those are just parts of what I am responsible for doing.”
Crawford says the focus of her Ph.D studies is how students in a classroom negotiate their relationship as Indigenous and non-indigenous students. It focuses on how integrating Indigenous content in post-secondary settings changes the relationship. “There are a lot of great changes happening in our elementary and secondary school systems,” Crawford says. “However, we also have a whole other part of the population that needs to be addressed and needs to be able to have those discussions and learn all the pieces of the relationship that will lead to better understanding.”
Recent Premier’s Award recipients include former Fort William Chief Georjann Morriseau, a Confederation College Aboriginal Law and Advocacy graduate who was recognized in 2014.