We had the pleasure of welcoming Maurice Switzer ’63 to Ms. Brown’s Grade 12 AP Literature class on Monday. Maurice is a citizen of the Mississaugas of Alderville First Nation and spent his childhood and school years in the village of Lakefield. His grandparents — Moses Muskrat Marsden and Nellie Orma Franklin — both worked at The Grove in the early 1900s, and the school's Marsden Circles of Indigenous Learning are named in their honour. Maurice lives in North Bay and is participating in Lakefield College School's Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion External Working Group.
The class launched into a Colonizer and Colonizing unit of study with a focus on dismantling settler colonialism and on-going colonization. Texts of study during this unit are Braiding Sweetgrass, Keeper’N Me and Cottagers and Indians. Students walk with the land and spend much of every class engaging with the land as their teacher during this unit of study. In advance of the discussion, students prepared questions related to the content of Braiding Sweetgrass. Maurice provided rich context about Indigenous land teachings and shared his own personal stories of Indigenous teachings.
Students discussed important topics such as reconciliation, reciprocity, connecting with nature, and the idea of a gift economy. Threads of this wonderful conversation continue to be woven into subsequent discussions and our students have been asking about when it will be possible to have Maurice join us again. They learned so much from him and they learned so much about one another. We are so grateful for his extensive knowledge, experience, and gentle instruction.