'To celebrate Indigenous success': Local teacher inspiring students through heritage and renewed love of drawing
EDMONTON -- Megan Tipler hadn’t drawn in years. But earlier this summer, while teaching online classes due to COVID-19, the Edmonton teacher came up with an idea to profile some of the people who inspire her most.
“Just to celebrate Indigenous success,” said Tipler, who is Métis.
”In Edmonton, everyone knows who Ethan Bear is, but if they’re not big readers maybe they’ve never heard of Cherie Dimaline or Billy-Ray Belcourt.”
Dimaline is the author of Tipler’s favourite book, The Marrow Thieves, which she teaches to her Grade 9 class at St. Louis Laurent School. In all, Tipler completed 30 illustrations, one for each day of Indigenous History Month, though she didn’t complete the final drawing until last week.
Tipler posted the illustrations online throughout the summer, along with a biography outlining her subject’s respective achievements.
“The reaction was very positive,” said Tipler, “Being able to just learn about 30 people they’ve never heard of in the past.”
And it’s the past that Tipler feels the current curriculum spends too much time on when it comes to Indigenous teachings.
“I think there’s a lack of contemporary resources,” she says. “Especially for Indigenous kids, it’s important, but for all kids to see that Indigenous people are not just suffering.”
“It’s not one or the other. We can educate ourselves and also celebrate what’s going on in the present.”
Tipler has since displayed all 30 finished illustrations in her classroom and fellow teachers are doing the same.
“I have friends that teach on reservations and Métis settlements and stuff and they’re like, 'I have these up in my classroom. Kids love it! They like love that they can see Indigenous people that look like that are amazing!'”
“That is the best feeling,” said Tipler.