TC² @ 25
Focus for This Month
Success Stories
Next Steps
Media Release
TC² @ 25
Focus for This Month
Success Stories
Next Steps
Media Release

Much Hope for the Future


Diane Lander and TJ Skalski

“Thank you for all this learning. We need to know what REALLY happened; don’t sugar-coat it for us!”

These are words we will never forget. They were spoken by a student who had just finished learning about Canada’s residential school system.


A new opportunity to explore truth and reconciliation

We are TJ Skalski (Indigenous Education Facilitator) and Diane Lander (Curriculum Facilitator), and we both work in the Parkland School Division in Stony Plain, Alberta. Together, we intentionally look for ways to align curriculum implementation with our work around truth and reconciliation. This year, the launch of a new resource provided us with an opportunity to do just that. That resource is What Can I Contribute to Meaningful Reconciliation? created by The Critical Thinking Consortium (TC²) in collaboration with the Grand Erie District School Board, Six Nations of the Grand River’s Education Department, and the Mississaugas of New Credit.


Addressing Indigenous education

From an Indigenous education perspective, the resource allows students and teachers to share in a journey to learn about Canada’s residential school system. Deepening our understanding of the past creates empathy, which is integral to the healing journey for Indigenous and non-Indigenous people alike. The resource helps to nurture the idea that non-Indigenous communities and Indigenous communities need each other.


Addressing the curriculum

From a curriculum perspective, we realized the resource wasn’t a perfect fit with the Alberta curriculum. Nonetheless, we identified clear alignment opportunities with both Social Studies 7 and Language Arts 6 and 7 that enabled us to invite teachers from both grade levels to implement the resource as they saw fit.


Observations from the classroom

In November 2018, we offered a full-day PD session to introduce interested teachers to What Can I Contribute to Meaningful Reconciliation? In the morning, we facilitated learning experiences to support participants in deepening their understanding of critical thinking. In the afternoon, Usha James, from TC², engaged us in a deep walk-through of the resource.

We are honoured to share some comments from one of the participants, Tammie Sarauer, who chose to embrace the resource. She teaches grades 6, 7, and 8 at Connections for Learning within the Parkland School Division.

While working through the lessons from TC², my fellow teachers and I found the learning resources to be very rich; their authenticity and honesty were hard hitting and certainly made our students take notice. After our students listened to survivors of residential schools, they came to understand how a whole people’s ideas, values, and ways of life could be changed so much that the people could no longer be who they were.

As our students’ work progressed, they began to realize that, together, we need to find out who Indigenous people are today and how we all fit together as a community. I think that my students have changed. No doubt they will use their new thinking to model and educate their fellow citizens about meaningful reconciliation.


The importance of working toward truth and reconciliation in the classroom

When we visited Tammie’s classroom at the end of the unit, we were elated to discover that the students’ final presentations and reflections were extremely powerful, and that they demonstrated both thoughtfulness and passion. These children were creating a new way for us, the adults, to think differently and work differently.

We believe that young people today are the change-makers. We predict that when they see themselves as valuable contributors to the creation of a new history in Canada, we will start to see the positive shift we all hope to see.


TJ Skalski
Indigenous Education Facilitator
Parkland School Division No. 70
Stony Plain, Alberta

Diane Lander
Curriculum Facilitator
Parkland School Division No. 70
Stony Plain, Alberta