The Northern Ontario Mathematics Association (NOMA) is committed to supporting the principles outlined in the Ontario First Nation, Métis and Inuit Education Policy Framework. In March 2017, a Leadership Day and Mini-Conference was held in Sudbury and thirty-seven ADSB educators attended. Keynote address was by Dr. Lisa Lunney Borden, an Associate Professor of Mathematics Education at St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia. Her address was titled “Honouring Indigenous Knowledge in our Mathematics Classroom: A Model for Transformation and Reconciliation.”
One of Dr. Borden’s big ideas was relayed in one statement: “You can’t hold the math in your mind until you hold the math in your hands.” Indigenous languages are verb-based and this impacts how we teach Indigenous students in math. There is a need to share with students the “action words” around math, not the nouns. For instance, instead of saying “we’re going to study geometry today”, an instructor could instead share images of spheres and cubes and ask what can these shapes do (roll, stack, etc.).
Dr. Borden led a session called “Show Me the Math”. It invites students to work with elders, parents, grandparents, knowledge keepers and other community members to examine the mathematics that is inherent in community and cultural practices. Dr. Borden spoke about how one easily sees math being used in patterning in Indigenous beading, or in measuring the amount of hide needed to make a drum.