A Campbell River educator is once again being recognized for her work in teaching Canadian history.
Danita Lewis, a Southgate Middle School teacher, is a finalist for this year’s Governor General’s History Award for Excellence in Teaching.
Lewis’ First Nations Studies program engages both Indigenous and non-Indigenous Grade 6 and 7 students in learning about First Nation people in Canada, a news release from the Campbell River School District said.
“Through experiential and explanatory learning, the program creates an awareness and respect for Indigenous history, culture and tradition, and serves to build bridges between Indigenous and non-Indigenous learners.”
Lewis is no stranger to educational awards. In 2017, she was one of 10 recipients of the Guiding the Journey: Indigenous Educator Awards.
Lewis is a member of the DeneSuline Nation in Cold Lake, Alta.
Her First Nations Studies program sees between 400 and 500 Grade 6 and 7 students each year.
“Students end up being more kind, caring and compassionate,” said Lewis in a Canada’s History podcast interview. “This programs serves to build bridges.”
She said students learn about the history of First Nations, Metis and Inuit people, “fundamentally the backbone of our country.”
Lewis said she designed the program about eight years ago and really drew inspiration from her daugher.
“I really think that there’s a need to have authentic Indigneous knowledge in our education system,” she said
The program is centred around a holistic learning approach with a lot of hands-on learning and makes history relevant to students. Lewis invites elders and knowledge keepers to speak in her classroom.
“I think history is really important because it’s a means for change and not repeating past mistakes,” said Lewis. “We need to teach the true history of the land that we reside on.”
Of the 25 finalists for the award, six teachers will be honoured with a cash prize of $2,500, an additional $1,000 for their school and an all-expense paid trip for two to Ottawa to received their award. The winners will be announced this fall.