Through Knowledge, Action: Shirav S. (Grade 5) Takes On Problematic Language

When Shirav S. (Grade 5) moved to Canada two years ago, he did not know about Indigenous Peoples and their teachings. But, since joining Meadowridge School, his learning has come a long way.

The Grade 5 student has not only learned about Indigenous Peoples rich histories, traditions, and culture but also about the atrocities they faced. Shirav says his learning grew significantly from his teacher, Ms. Charlene Smoke. "She taught us a lot, including why the words Aboriginal and Indian are outdated and bad." Shirav was surprised, then, when he saw some significant publications and local organizations still using the terms. Shirav took action by writing a letter to the publications and contacting a local MLA. In both instances, Shirav says he did not criticize anyone but instead encouraged them to be more knowledgeable. "I don't blame you if you don't know or made a mistake—if you didn't know, now you do, and we can fix what's wrong," he explains.

Shirav draws his inspiration from a documentary he watched at school, remembering that, in particular Indigenous languages, there is no word for "sorry," as it is through action that you apologize. Shirav continued his own action at school by meeting with Ms. Smoke, speaking at an assembly, and helping his peers be informed. Through all his efforts, Shirav says he is encouraging knowledge and, through that, change.


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