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First Nations, Métis and Inuit Learning Center

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Manido Onji "Place of Spirit": OCDSB's First Nations, Métis and Inuit Learning Center - known as “The Lodge.”

The First Nations, Métis and Inuit Learning Center is an OCDSB space that was first housed at Rideau High School and has since moved to Gloucester High School. Designed in consultation with the students at Rideau and Gloucester, youth workers from several community agencies, and several elders from various First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities, our “lodge” serves three main purposes:

  1. To provide a space for First Nations, Métis and Inuit educational programming at the local school level

  2. To provide a space for professional development and First Nations, Métis and Inuit educational programming board-wide, and

  3. To provide a culturally safe and relevant space that can be used by the First Nations, Métis and Inuit community for events through the Community Use of Schools process.

Originally, the Lodge was built at Rideau High School, and given the name “Manido Onji” by Albert Dumont.  The name means place of spirit, and it has certainly become a home and a haven for the Indigenous students who use it.

The Aboriginal Learning Center Community Opening was held in January 2014.

Smudging

Smudging is a tradition, common to many First Nations, which involves the burning of one of four sacred medicines gathered from the earth. These four medicines are: sweetgrass, sage, cedar, and tobacco. There are many ways and variations on how a smudge is done. Smudging encourages people to stop, slow down, become mindful and focused. This allows people to be attentive to the event, task or purpose at hand. Historically, Métis and Inuit people did not smudge; however, today some Métis and Inuit people have incorporated smudging into their lives.

The OCDSB recognizes the significance and importance of smudging to some First Nation, Métis, and Inuit students and their families. In our efforts to support this practice in the First Nations, Metis and Inuit Learning Center, we have created a smudge room that has special ventilation to allow the ceremonial practice of smudging to occur.

The OCDSB recognizes that smudging is always voluntary. No one is never forced or pressured to smudge. It is completely acceptable for a person to indicate that he/she does not want to smudge and that a person may choose to leave the room during a smudge.

Booking of the First Nations, Metis and Inuit Learning Center

Scheduling of events that will take place during school hours in the First Nations, Métis and Inuit Learning Center is done through Gloucester High School's office staff, who can be reached at (613) 745-7176. Anyone wishing to book the space during school hours must agree to follow school protocol and rules while in the space and its surrounding building.

Scheduling of events in the First Nations, Métis and Inuit Learning Center after school hours is done through the OCDSB Community Use of Schools procedure.

For more information on our First Nations, Métis and Inuit Learning Center, or to book a time to view the space, please contact Gloucester High School at (613) 745-7176 or Nancy Henry, Instructional Coach, First Nations, Metis and Inuit Education at (613) 596-8211 Ext. 8159.

*Pictured above: The Aboriginal Learning Space Mural - Created by students & two youth workers from Wabano. The mural was painted onto the wall of the smudge room by Rideau & Urban Aboriginal High School students.


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