Uniting Our Nations includes a range of programs developed in partnership with the Thames Valley District School Board. Uniting Our Nations programs have the same focus on healthy relationships as other Fourth R programs, but are delivered within a culturally relevant context.
Although the programs range from one-day conferences to year-long weekly sessions and three-day intensive experiences, there are underlying commonalities. Common themes include a focus on healthy relationship development, the provision of culturally-relevant experiences, and an emphasis on mentoring. The inclusion of culturally-relevant experiences has been identified as a best practice in programming. Mentoring has also been identified as an effective and important mechanism for supporting Indigenous youth. The common elements help to ensure that the programs are complementary and reinforce each other, but are not redundant for youth who participate in multiple programs.
The Uniting Our Nations programs were developed in collaboration with Indigenous educators, students, counsellors, and community partners. The following programs are available for Indigenous populations:
The Fourth R Grade 9 Health Physical Education (HPE) - Indigenous Informed (curriculum based)
The Fourth R programs are evidence-based, evaluated, and founded on extensive research and apply best practice approaches to building skills and reducing harm among adolescents. This program meets many of the provincial Health Education outcomes, where best practice approaches are used to support youth in making healthy choices. The programs are also widely accepted as effective prevention programming on various registries across North America. Specifically, this Indigenous Informed Edition:
- Reflects on the Reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people
- Situates some of the issues facing Indigenous youth in a historical context examining colonization practices, racism and oppression - for example, linking residential schools and the widespread effects of trauma in communities
- Focuses on holistic models of healthy youth development and relationships with an emphasis on the connection to sexual decisions and substance use
- Provides youth with opportunities to identify individual and community strengths within their cultural framework that will support them in making healthy choices
- Employs culturally relevant teaching strategies such as the use of sharing circles and bringing community members into the classroom
- Includes additional role play examples featuring Indigenous youth which support the curriculum by demonstrating healthy relationship skills in situations relevant to youth (e.g., racism at school, inter-cultural relationships)
- Addresses cultural myths and stereotypes about substance use
- Contracting an Aboriginal curriculum consultant to incorporate a cultural identity framework and identify other necessary components
- Developing additional educational materials and role play examples with the assistance of Aboriginal student consultants
- Consultation and input from numerous Aboriginal educators and leaders
This program was developed in partnership with Indigenous educators and youth.
Indigenous Peer Mentoring Program (secondary school):
The Peer Mentoring Program Goals are:
- To support the development of healthy and positive relationships between younger secondary students and peer mentors from older grades
- To engage with relevant Indigenous topics in the school setting
- To help smooth the transition from elementary school to secondary school for the younger student
- To connect two people with similar interests and backgrounds
- To connect with other mentors and mentees in group activities
The year-long Peer Mentoring Program involves activities with peer mentors and mentees only as well as activities to do in pairs, or as part of the larger group. Pairs of students meet on a weekly basis during lunch time and engage in a range of activities together, sometimes with a cultural focus, and other times with general activities enjoyed by youth in this age group.
The 16 weekly sessions of the Peer Mentoring Program were designed to meet the unique strengths and needs of Indigenous students in the following ways:
- Mentees are given an important role model for being successful at school
- Adult Community Mentors and Facilitators provide teachings and share their experience
- The program sessions are linked to the Seven Grandfather teachings
- The program was developed with Indigenous educators and community members
- Some sessions include Medicine Wheel teachings of wellness and mental health
Literacy Test Preparation (curriculum-based, secondary school):
The Uniting Our Nations Literacy Test Preparation is a resource for teachers providing English lessons that use Indigenous materials to increase literacy skills which support the requirements of the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test (OSSLT).
The program works to meet the following objectives:
- Encourage discussion around culture and issues affecting Indigenous youth
- Expose youth to a range of literature sources written by Indigenous authors and journalists
- Increase critical literacy skills while analyzing systemic issues affecting Indigenous youth
- Encourage exploration of healthy coping strategies, resiliency, and healthy relationships
- Organized into 3 sections which include: non-fiction articles focusing on literacy, small group novel activities, and short stories
- Identifies a larger issue being discussed (e.g. bullying, identity, conflict) and includes introductions and materials for pre-activities, teaching strategies, and extension ideas
- Includes rubrics for assessment and evaluation
To purchase any of the listed programs above:
Our Uniting Our Nations programming was the winner of a 2009 Sharing the Flame award from the Canadian Council on Learning for Innovation in Aboriginal Education.