Loyalist College’s 4 Seasons of Reconciliation Program gains traction at Belleville City Council

Jennifer Tewathahá:kwa Maracle – Screengrab via Loyalist College

At the Belleville City Council meeting on June 10, a significant step forward was presented regarding promoting enhanced Indigenous education for faculty and staff at Loyalist College.

An overview of the 4 Seasons of Reconciliation education program – an initiative developed in partnership with the First Nations University of Canada – was presented to council through a deputation made by Jennifer Tewathahá:kwa Maracle, a Ph.D. candidate and executive director of the Indigenous Initiative Reconciliation at Loyalist College.

Maracle expressed gratitude for the opportunity to speak to council about the initiative, emphasizing Loyalist College’s commitment to truth and reconciliation.

“Loyalist College is emerging as a leader in truth and reconciliation among post-secondary institutions,” Maracle stated, proudly noting that the college has integrated the 4 Seasons of Reconciliation education modules into its onboarding process for all staff. The program is comprised of a four-part online and interactive series designed to provide a comprehensive understanding of Indigenous history, culture and contemporary issues.

“To date, nearly 600 staff members have completed the modules, which have been tailored specifically for Loyalist College,” Maracle explained. “Staff were then invited to participate in sharing circles with either myself or a member of my team. The Sharing Circles provided an opportunity for them to share their feelings and work through them.”

Following the program, faculty members participated in workshops aimed at decolonizing and Indigenizing the curriculum, marking the beginning of an ongoing process to align with the calls to action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

“Our work is not done at Loyalist College. In fact, it has only just begun,” Maracle said, highlighting the college’s ongoing commitment.

The impact of the program has extended beyond the college, attracting interest from industry partners and other agencies.

What separates Loyalist College from other Indigenous education programs is its holistic approach, Maracle explained.

“We are looking outside of the Indigenous centre to support our students. By educating the greater community of Loyalist College, we are able to support our students as a larger group.”

Earlier this year, Councilor Kelly participated in a meeting at the Indigenous Center at Loyalist College to discuss expanding the program to the broader community.
“We brainstormed how we could move this forward,” Maracle shared. The result was an offer to provide the program to the council at no cost to share the benefit from this educational opportunity, while also serving as an external trial run.

The 4 Seasons of Reconciliation program launched in January 2024. The program, as detailed on Loyalist College’s website, is “a self-paced online education program covering subjects from the legacy of the residential school system to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), as well as Indigenous history and culture.”

Mark Kirkpatrick, President and CEO of Loyalist College, emphasized the program’s potential for fostering meaningful change through an online statement, declaring: “As an educational institution and community resource, Loyalist College recognizes its responsibility in contributing to a more inclusive, equitable society. The 4 Seasons of Reconciliation is about empowering Loyalist College employees by providing the knowledge and tools they need to be community leaders in the process of decolonization.”

Reconciliation Education, an organization that is another key partner in this initiative, describes its mission as providing essential anti-racist training and reconciliation education to various sectors across Canada. According to their website, the program includes 10 interactive modules designed to educate all Canadians, with 10 per cent of proceeds supporting scholarships at the First Nations University of Canada.

Maracle’s deputation concluded with a unanimous resolution by council to receive the information, marking a promising step toward broader community engagement in reconciliation efforts.

For more information on the 4 Seasons of Reconciliation program, visit Loyalist College’s official website or the Reconciliation Education website.

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