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Local teacher hired by First Nation for upcoming academic year

July 30, 2020   ·   0 Comments

As a teacher, Caitlin Malone has always been a proponent of a holistic approach to education.

Before moving back to Aurora, she worked for more “alternative” schools in British Columbia and, when looking for further opportunities to follow her passion, she found an opportunity that dovetailed with her philosophy – one that will take her to Northern Ontario this fall, as measures related to the global pandemic permit.

Ms. Malone is one of 51 teachers from across the country who have been hired by First Nations communities in Ontario and Manitoba to start work in the academic year ahead through the Teach for Canada program.

Teach for Canada is a non-profit organization that works with northern First Nations to recruit, prepare and support incoming teachers. They operate on the knowledge that teachers “often arrive in remote and Indigenous communities without the preparation and support they need to succeed – and stay – in the classrooms.”

“The twin challenges of teacher supply and turnover compound historical injustice and systemic inequities to produce an education gap between First Nations and non-First Nations communities,” say Teach for Canada representatives. “Teach for Canada works with First Nations communities to begin to close that gap.”

Throughout the month of July, Ms. Malone has been participating in the program’s Summer Enrichment Program on subjects ranging from “How Indigenous Education Will Save The World”, to “Indigenizing Classrooms”, to “Trauma-Informed Classrooms.”

In any other year, these sessions would have been held with all the participating teachers at Lakehead University. But, due to present circumstances, Ms. Malone has been taking these courses online. The courses, she says, have served to fuel her forward.

“When researching, I realized First Nations have a more holistic approach to education and that is something I really believe in,” she says.

Before she started looking for new teaching opportunities, Ms. Malone says she had no idea Teach for Canada existed, but was immediately interested in what they had to offer.

She began the application process by writing why she was interested in working with a First Nations school, outlining her passions to find the best fit.

From there, she was selected for the next round which involved an interview with the organization.

Once that hurdle was cleared, she participated in interviews over Zoom with First Nations leaders who were looking for the best candidates to fit the needs of their students.

She had to develop lesson plans, submit them ahead of time for the interviewers, and discuss how more of an Indigenous perspective could be infused into the lesson, she says.

“Some of [the leaders] want to get to know you a little bit more and you can have an interview with them,” she says. “It can be kind of stressful because I was actually contacted by three communities – and just having to make a decision about the offers within just one week was a little bit stressful, but I just went with my gut feeling.”

Once school resumes, Ms. Malone will be flying out to teach phys-ed at Eabametoong First Nation, sometimes known as Fort Hope, which is a one-hour and 45-minute flight from Thunder Bay, accessible by land only through winter ice roads.

“From what I’ve heard and what I’ve seen it is a really beautiful place,” she says. “I know the community members are very strong and they are all very connected together and welcoming of others coming into the community. I am really excited to be a part of that.”

Once on the ground, Ms. Malone says she is keen to become involved in the community wherever she can, eager to dig in on what needs to be done and implement programs, while always being respectful and asking questions.

“Truth and Reconciliation is a huge topic and [in enrichment courses] we got to hear from some of my community members who were in residential schools and their own experiences with that,” she says. “This idea of us coming into the schools and trying to be… some people might be seen as trying to be a ‘white saviour’ but I don’t want to be perceived as that and that is not what I am going there as. For me, more than anything, I am going there to teach, but I feel they are going to be teaching me more than I am going to be teaching them. I am going to go in there with an open heart and an open mind and I am really hoping more than anything that I am just going to be working alongside and learning from them.

“There have been a lot of awful things that have happened in the past, but as we talk about at Teach Canada, it is not something that we can change, it is a reality, and if I can touch one child, I think that is going to make all the difference to me. I know I can’t reach out to impact everybody, but if I can be there and make a difference in one child’s life, I hope that can happen.”

For more information on Teach for Canada, visit

By Brock Weir



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