Sage and Sunshine School launched for urban Indigenous children in Peterborough

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An Anishinaabe woman from the Peterborough area who has started teaching her children about their culture, language and heritage is launching an online fundraising campaign to fund a private school teaching low-income urban Indigenous children.

Sage and Sunshine, located at 1434 Chemong Rd., Is an Indigenous culture-focused school integrating language and culture into the Ontario school curriculum and will open in September for children ages four to nine.

Early childhood educator and mother of four Ashley Wynne began to incorporate not only Indigenous culture and identity but also language into her children’s education plan at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic .

“I was bringing culture into everyday life with my schooling and realized that it really worked, as did the community,” she said.

“I was posting on social media what I was doing with my kids and others were having trouble with their kids going to school online and I reached out and picked up a few other kids.”

Wynne’s approach is a way for children to access traditional cultural teachings by observing and exploring the world around them with a practical element.

The desire to teach children grew out of the issues Wynne faced as she tried to learn about her background.

My mom was not native and she tried to teach me as much as she could, Wynne said.

“She put me on Ojibwe language lessons, which gave me a community to belong to and a connection,” she said.

When Wynne was in 6th grade she moved with her mother to Peterborough, where she met her father.

“My father is indigenous and he himself was displaced, he had no cultural practice,” she said.

“Growing up, I really had to figure it out on my own, especially when I started having my own children”,

After learning about the cultural practices and heritage of the Anishinaabe people, Wynne said she started teaching her children, so they didn’t have to endure long hours of research to find out where they came from. .

“Many Indigenous families and children have been displaced from their language and culture through residential schools, adoption and the foster care system,” she said.

“Much of our culture has been taken away from us. “

She said her plan is to make the teachings, language and history as mainstream as anything else in the program.

“My goal is to make it normal; they will grow up learning it, it is everyday life for them and it is like that, ”said Wynne.

“When I was younger it wasn’t normal, it was different, and I felt different, and I don’t want these kids to feel different.”

A typical day at private school would consist of a welcoming routine with native aspects.

“A welcoming morning routine where we go over the schedule and the weather, show up and do a spot,” said Wynne.

“We will also apply the Ontario curriculum in a practical way with the cultural resources we were able to obtain and learning applications for math and literacy, and some STEM activities. “

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) activities promote positive student-led teaching to solve problems, collaborate, test ideas through hands-on collaboration encouraging children to think innovatively.

Wynne said she hopes to start teaching and offer places in her private school for September to at least eight low-income urban Indigenous students.

There is a lot of interest in this program, she says.

“One of the biggest hurdles for interested families is tuition,” Wynne said. “I really didn’t want this to be a deciding factor in whether these children have access to their culture as part of education.”

People can donate to his GoFundMe campaign at bit.ly/3i8gJiA


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