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ODSS student chosen to represent Ontario in NTRC program with original poem

April 3, 2023

Orangeville, ON – Congratulations to Gabby T from Orangeville District Secondary School (ODSS), Gabby was selected to represent Ontario in the National Truth and Reconciliation Centre’s 2022-2023 Imagine a Canada program.

As a culminating assignment from last semester’s Indigenous Studies course – Understanding Contemporary First Nations, Métis and Inuit Voices – Gabby and her peers were asked to create a piece, based on all they learned in class, that imagines what true reconciliation looks like.

Susie Chamberlain, the teacher for the course, said the main course objectives were gaining an understanding of a more accurate depiction of Canadian history, current situations across Canada, and understanding the importance of sovereignty, treaties, inherent rights, language, land; as well as understanding what truth and reconciliation looks like in Canada. 

Chamberlain said that all students in the class submitted pieces for the program and that the caliber of the work for the submissions were ‘phenomenal.’

“Gabby’s work stood out due to her understanding of content, her appeal to the heart, and her use of language. Focusing on language, land, and love propelled her piece to the top of the heap,” said Chamberlain. 

Gabby’s poem will be featured in the program’s annual booklet, and she has been invited to attend the virtual reconciliation leadership conference in April. Gabby’s poem is one of only twelve pieces selected from across Canada.

When Gabby found out that she had won and that her poem had been selected she said her ‘jaw dropped.’

“I told my friend that I had won and texted my dad a picture of the email. It was such a cool experience even just reading my name as a winner, and knowing that it was because of a poem I wrote made it so special,” said Gabby. 

Gabby said she chose a poem because she believed it was the easiest choice because she saw it as a way “to express my gratitude for all the amazing knowledge I have been taught by the Knowledge Keepers and Elders who shared with our class throughout the semester.” 

Chamberlain has expressed that it is her hope that “students think about whose land we are on and understand we have a responsibility to listen and learn and care for this place and people.” 

It seems like Gabby and her peers have learned what Chamberlain was hoping, Gabby said, “Ms. Chamberlain’s Indigenous Studies class taught me so much about the creation of this country and systematic racism, which I had been previously told didn’t exist. I left the class with a deeper appreciation for Indigenous peoples as well as a greater understanding of our country’s faults.” 

In the future, Gabby hopes to write during the off-time in her  future career and eventually become a published author.

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