Citizenship Ceremony at Fort York, April 26, 2013, featured sharing of thoughts about what it means to be a Canadian

In the last several days I had the good fortune to attend several enjoyable events.

Attendees at April 26, 2013 Citizenship Ceremony arriving on morning of April 26, 2013. Jaan Pill photo

On April 26, 2013 I helped out as a discussion host prior to a Citizenship Ceremony at Old Fort York in the morning and gave a short talk and slide show about the Long Branch Jane’s Walk at the Centre for Social Innovation in the evening. Several other Jane’s Walk leaders gave such short talks, which I found highly informative.

Citizenship Ceremony

Details about the events at Fort York on April 27, 2013 can be found here and here.

On April 26 I worked with Amber Sandy as a discussion host at a table for young people, at a meeting on the upper floor of the Blue Barracks at Fort York, who were about to get their Canadian citizenship. Before the event, we were provided with a list of questions that mights serve as discussion starters.

Amber Sandy is involved with a First Nations and apps project

Amber is an Anishinaabe from Cape Croker reservation and has been a student at University of Toronto specializing in Aboriginal Studies. This past year she has been working at the Native Canadian Centre of Toronto on a project called First Story.

This is an app launched in October 2012 and she has been working on growing it ever since. The app showcases the Aboriginal History in Toronto and makes this information available free to people. You can find more information and links to it below if you would like to learn more:

Download the app at:

Like the project on Facebook at:

Follow the project on Twitter at:

Check out the project’s blog at:

This discussion groups met in the building in the middle of the photo. The Citizenship Ceremony took place in the building on the left. Jaan Pill photo

Amber Sandy works with the Toronto Native Community History Project committee members, one of whom is Brian MacLean and he is putting together a Jane’s Walk of the Aboriginal History of the U of T campus area which has been developed through the First Story app as well.

The Citizenship Ceremony went well. We helped to facilitate a discussion among young people from several countries. They talked about what home means to them, how Canada compares to their mother country, and what they hope to contribute to Canada. I learned many things!

I was also impressed with the work of Sandrina Ntamwemezi in her role as Roundtable Host Coordinator on behalf of the Fort York Citizenship Committee. Many people worked together to make this event a success.

University of Toronto Schools

We ensured that each student at the table, including two Grade 8 students from University of Toronto Schools (UTS) who were there as part of a course focusing on government, had an equal opportunity to speak.

I think in such a situation if the discussion hosts learn as much that is new as the other participants, then I know it’s been a worthwhile event. That was the case on this occasion.

View of events during Citizenship Ceremony. Jaan Pill photo

I’m familiar with UTS because I received my teacher training at the University of Toronto in the early 1980s and UTS was in the same building where I attended classes. I’ve also had the opportunity to follow the career of a former Principal of UTS, Stan Pearl, whom I met when he was Principal of West Hill Collegiate Institute in Scarborough in the early 1990s, when I was teaching at West Hill.

Stan Pearl

Stan Pearl had an approach to his role that I found inspiring. He made a point of spending plenty of time in the hallways, getting to know first-hand what was going on, rather than sequestering himself in the Principal’s Office.

He also circulated a survey among teaching staff to get a sense of how his approach to the administrator’s role was working out. I was impressed with is approach and am pleased to say that through Ron Benson, who teaches in a teacher training program at York University, I still manage to keep up to date about Stan Pearl’s life in retirement.

I’m really pleased that I am in touch with people that I met during the years I taught with the Metro Toronto School Board, before I had the opportunity (there was a shortage of teachers in the Peel Region in the mid-1990s) to switch over to the Peel District School Board, where I taught until my retirement in 2006.

I was asked to help with the youth discussions at the April 27, 2013 Citizenship Ceremony events at Old Fort York on April 27, 2013 because of my background as a teacher. I’m really pleased I had the opportunity to help out.

Serving as a discussion facilitator is among the skills that a public school teacher has the opportunity to develop. The opportunity to practise the skills is very helpful.

Role play and drama

Another skill that I developed as a teacher involved the application of role play and drama as a means whereby students could demonstrate their understanding of core concepts in the curriculum.

Role play and drama are among the most enjoyable memories that I retain from the days that I worked as a teacher, starting with the role of a substitute teacher at a co-operative infant day care centre on McCaul Street in downtown Toronto beginning in the mid-1970s.

The basics of what I know about the value role play and drama I first learned from children up to one-and-a-half years of age at what used to be the Snowflake Parent-Child Centre at 228 McCaul Street in Toronto.

Each discussion group chose a spokesperson at the beginning of the discussion. The spokesperson then spoke for a few minutes to the assembled group sharing highlights. Jaan Pill photo

I recall one visitor to the centre who said that Stephen Leacock spent some time living in at 228 McCaul Street in earlier decades. I don’t know if there is archival evidence to back up that claim.

I have fond memories of what infants at a parent-cooperative day care taught me about drama at a formative stage of my life.

The discussion – about the Sunrise Ceremony and other events on April 26 and 27, 2013 – will continue in a subsequent blog post or posts.

 Click on the following images if you wish to enlarge them:

Plaque at entrance to Fort York. Jaan Pill photo

Panel from display at entrance to Fort York. Jaan Pill photo

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