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Care for Elders and Knowledge Keepers upon School Re-entry

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Elders and Knowledge Keepers play a vital role in supporting schools across Manitoba to integrate Indigenous worldviews that contribute to the educational achievement, holistic well-being, and continued sense of belonging among students and staff in schools. The following steps highlight what schools can do to ensure the safe inclusion of members of our most vulnerable population upon the re-entry to school.

  • Schools should remind anyone planning to enter a school facility to stay home when sick or when exhibiting any symptoms of a cold, flu, or COVID-19, as per Manitoba public health guidelines.
  • Schools should designate a representative to communicate and determine how Elders and or Knowledge Keepers would like to proceed this school year, given the circumstances surrounding the pandemic. For example, are they more comfortable with supporting virtual learning opportunities off-site, or are they comfortable with the continuation of in-school learning practices on-site?
  • When presenting tobacco and offering gifts, social distancing should be maintained. Tobacco should be delivered prior to a teaching whenever possible. This tradition is important and should be maintained when virtual teachings occur. In order to maintain proper social distancing, tobacco may be placed on a nearby surface for the Elder and/or Knowledge Keeper to pick up after receiving the offering. The presentation of gifts should occur after the teaching is complete.
  • Indigenous program leads should connect directly with Elders and/or Knowledge Keepers to support online delivery and the sharing of Traditional Knowledge/Teachings. This includes tutorials and support for the use of technology across virtual platforms. Consider recording virtual meetings and teachings to support classroom learning.
  • Should Elders and/or Knowledge Keepers prefer to support learning in schools, disposable/reusable masks should be provided upon entry into the building each day, as per Manitoba public health guidelines. The wearing of masks should be mandatory for all Grades 4 to 12 students and all staff where social distancing of two metres cannot be maintained.
  • A portable bottle of hand sanitizer and/or gloves should also be made available to the Elder and/or Knowledge Keeper. This accommodation is necessary in the case of allergies or skin sensitivities. A person should be identified to clean workspaces at the end of each day.
  • Schedule larger meeting spaces or classes outside when it is comfortable and when weather permits. Minimize the gathering of large groups of students. Hugs and handshakes are discouraged at this time.