Canada's last residential school, the Gordon Indian Residential School in Punnichy, Saskatchewan, finally closed in 1996. A dark chapter of Canada's contemporary history that was largely ignored until the recent report by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the schools were a perversion of the very idea of education, destroying the culture, identity and traditional knowledge of Canada’s Aboriginal peoples in the name of assimilation.
Gianmarco Visconti occupies a privileged position in society, and he knows it. Born and raised in Edmonton, the Master of Library and Information Studies student in the Faculty of Education is also gay and Muslim--facts he can choose to disclose, or not.
“My mother is of Arabic descent, raised in Kenya by adoptive parents. She deliberately didn’t give us Arabic names to protect us from being targets,” says Visconti.
This is not your average graduating class. The 11 students that make up this Faculty of Education cohort are already professional teachers with a combined 25-plus years of classroom teaching time, numerous undergraduate and graduate degrees, and nine languages under their belts.
They’ve also all left their home countries for new lives in Canada.
The legacy of residential schools lives on in Aboriginal people across Canada. Survivors, along with their children and grandchildren, still bear the scars of being torn away from their families and communities and denied their culture and language.
After a long road on her own out of poverty, Bachelor of Education student Amanda Beekman is “beyond excited” to be graduating from the University of Alberta.
With a sometimes part-time class schedule, in combination with international aid projects building houses in Mexico and visiting orphanages in Guatemala--and some breaks for travel to India, Africa, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam--Amanda has already had a good taste of ‘real life’. But as a result, the usual four-year education degree has taken more time.
When he was commissioned to paint the immense domed ceiling of the Canadian Museum of Civilization in the early ‘90s, Alex Janvier was dubbed “the Canadian Michelangelo.”
Since then, he has continued to take on ambitious artistic projects, such as the recently announced floor mosaic planned for Edmonton’s new downtown arena. The mosaic, known as Tsa tsa ke k'e (“Iron Foot Place”), will be 150 square metres and has the distinction of being the largest public art work yet commissioned in the city.
Fern Snart is not one to slow down. It is near the end of her final term as Dean of the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Education, and her schedule is busier now than it was the day she started her deanship in 2005.
There are delegations of visiting scholars to host, faculty meetings to chair, awards to present, and many initiatives to wrap up. And right now there is the small matter of a photo shoot to do for the faculty magazine.
The University of Alberta had a spectacular turnout for Alumni Weekend last fall, and our Education grads came out in record numbers.
At the sold out Education Homecoming Luncheon, we asked alumni and guests: What advice would you give our current students?
Here are just a few of their answers:
“Be sure to take one course that is not your favorite area. It will give you a lot of sympathy for students you teach later who are in their least favorite class.”
Cathryn Brecka, BEd ’74
Marion Kasha, BEd ‘58, sent us a note looking back at her career from her early days as a teacher in the 1950s to the present. She writes, “My training as a teacher and my many experiences while teaching gave me the basis for appreciating my life over the last 81 years.” Marion recalls teaching eight grades of students in a rural Alberta school in the early ‘50s, where “[t]here was no running water, no duplicating machines, not even a phone in the school.
From increasing student engagement to reducing exam marking time, there are many reasons for teachers to explore the educational tech tools available in today’s market.
“Technology not only supplements student learning, but at times transforms it,” says James Park, a learning consultant in the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Education.