The Good Way Club is a new initiative at Lansdowne-Costain Public School, with the goal of fostering pride, leadership, and community among Indigenous and non-Indigenous students.
“Opportunities for allyship, the lifelong process of building relationships based on trust, consistency, and accountability, is extremely important,” said Sabrina Sawyer, teacher consultant, Indigenous Education. “The Good Way Club allows students to be active in reconciliation, and is a great place to begin to do that work.”
The club includes students and staff, with facilitation from Sawyer, and carries out the work of Grand Erie’s Multi-Year Plan through the Community and Equity indicators, which have complementary goals of building inclusive, welcoming environments celebrating the contributions of the wider community in the achievement of Success for Every Student.
Over the past year, the number of self-identifying Indigenous students at Lansdowne-Costain Public School has increased. Initiatives such as the Good Way Club help spur that, as does the programming facilitated by the Indigenous Education team in the classrooms as well as throughout the school.
“When students see, hear, and feel like they’re part of the community, it feels safe to share who they are with their teachers and the rest of the school community,” said Sawyer.
The Good Way Club is learning about language, culture, and history, specifically the Two Row wampum and the responsibilities between students with respect to it, both in and out of the classroom. The Two Row wampum belt is a symbolic record of the first agreement between First Nations and European settlers on Turtle Island/North America, and was the basis of subsequent treaties declaring a peaceful coexistence. The Good Way Club’s intention is to learn from traditional teachings, and then bring those lessons to the wider community through activities and events. After learning about the Two Row wampum, students beaded and handed out Two Row bracelets to share the teachings it imparts.
The Good Way Club is also creating opportunities for leadership, and the hope is that those involved continue to play a leading role when they move on to secondary school.
“Over time, students begin to see that the teachings provide a natural way of interacting, problem-solving, and feeling pride in who they are, whether as an ally or an Indigenous person,” said Sawyer. “Overall, students feel a better sense of connection to their school community.”