2021 Indigenous Math K-12 Symposium

Mathematical and Indigenous Futures:

Generational Journeys

May 11 and May 18, 2021 Virtual


Although held virtually the 2021 Indigenous Math Symposium was a huge success. More than 250 people registered for Session 1 May 11 and Session 2 May 18, 2021. Session 1 featured Beadwork and Mathwork with Anishinaabe artist Nico Williams. In Session 2 our Igniting the Sparkle Sharing Circle featured 14 educators sharing their ideas, projects, and innovations related to connecting math, community and culture.

Our theme Mathematical and Indigenous Futures: Generational Journeys speaks to awareness and actions toward futures – beyond connections to culture rooted in traditions and traditional practices and toward bringing together the past, present and future. Drawing upon the past provides opportunities for futuristic thinking. Our focus on Mathematical and Indigenous Futures recognizes the future – not only where we are going but also who we are – as opportunities for mathematical inquiry.

Session 1: Beadwork and mathwork with artist Nico Williams

Nico Fist Pump Our featured speaker embodies the melding of tradition and futuristic thinking. Nico Williams, is Anishinaabe from Aam-jiw-naang First Nation currently working in Tiohtià:ke / Mooniyang / Montreal where he is also completing his MFA at Concordia University. Nico is an active member in the urban Indigenous Montreal Arts community, a board member for the Contemporary Native Art Biennial, and a member of the Contemporary Geometric Beadwork research team. Our work with Nico continues with a community beading project in fall 2021.

Download beading resources PDF

Click to view or post your images of beadwork and mathwork: Beading Beading Beading Padlet

Session 2: Igniting the Sparkle Sharing Circles

Megan H

Paper Drum Megan H is from the Métis Nation. She works as an Indigenous Education Teacher on the territory of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations at the Vancouver School District. Megan shared her paper drum project. Here, students explored all the math behind making a drum, as well as discuss the cultural aspects of drum making, owning, and playing. For the younger grades, students can practice estimation and measurement skills. Older students can explore measuring 3D shapes.

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Kammi Clark

Sand Spirals My name is Kammi Clark and I am the Vice Principal and one of the Learning Support Teachers at Norgate Xwemélch’stn Elementary in North Van. As part of the Dogwood 25 initiative, teachers from the NVSD explored ways to bring Indigenous perspectives into mathematics. For my part, in the role of LST, I led and supported a school-wide exploration of spirals and the Fibonacci Sequence that connected to land, place, story and Indigenous knowledge. Download presentation resource PDF

Dr. Christine Ho Younghusband

Christine Ho Younghusband outside with math Dr. Christine Ho Younghusband is an Assistant Professor at the University of Northern British Columbia teaching in the Teacher Education Program. Former secondary math teacher in BC public schools and researching about identity and system change. My journey with Indigenous Education and mathematics spans over a decade and I wonder about decolonizing curriculum and what it could look like. A “Location Statement” I wrote, inspired by Dr. Henry Harder at UNBC, reshaped my thinking about bias, world views, and mathematics epistemology and pedagogy. Download presentation resource PDF

David Sufrin

Indigenous Math David Sufrin David taught Math in Haida Gwaii for 10 years and worked at a remote youth camp there. This experience changed his life view. He taught high school math for another 27 years and currently teaches Education at VIU. I will be sharing the work being done at the Faculty of Education, Vancouver Island University which seeks to integrate Indigenous culture, and ways of knowing and learning with the K – 12 BC Math Curriculum. We continue to learn from Elders, knowledge carriers, the students, and our own relationships to the land and its peoples. Download presentation resource PDF

Melody Watson

Melody Watson school Melody is an educator from SD 85. She is passionate about fostering a love of numeracy in her students. Melody has been enjoying learning about ways to incorporate more place-based learning and culture into math. A.J. Elliott Elementary is a small school located in Sointula on Malcolm Island. Last year we started a cedar math inquiry as a whole school. I am sharing a few highlights of this inquiry including forest discovery, non-standard measuring, shapes in our forest, weaving, and bentwood boxes.

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Sara Salemink

Counting cards Sara Salemink is the Principal of Brentwood Elementary in Brentwood Bay, BC. Her passion areas in supporting student learning are community connection, numeracy, and the arts. The SENĆOŦEN number card project was an idea developed by our Kindergarten team at Brentwood Elementary. Educators collaborated to develop a project that connects our local language and art with the concept of numbers 1 through 10. We were pleased to have collaboration from a local artist on this project and to share our project across our school district.

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Amanda Enterkin

Pythagoras and other challenges I am a guest in Stó:lō territory, Indigenous but from another river. I have tutored math for most of my life, translating processes through manipulatives and stories. I am currently an EA on route to elementary teacher training. Upper level math does not lend itself easily to Indigenization. There seems to be no intrinsic inquiry for trigonometry or complex interest formulas, whereas concepts such as proportional reasoning are more relevant. Is the goal to add content to existing curriculum or have authentic application throughout?

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Joy Fast

Joy is a grad student in the MAED program at UBC and a grade one teacher for the Delta School District. Joy is passionate about making meaning and developing community as we find ourselves through sharing our stories. Working with the First Peoples Principle of Learning and Indigenous Storywork, Joy is seeking to develop understanding of how to participate in storywork that leads to rich mathematical discourse, increases teacher understanding of student learning and creates connections for all students.

Jess Kyle

Jess is currently one of Surrey’s Numeracy Helping Teachers and works to create classrooms that are creative, responsive and social. She has a strong belief that the First Peoples Principles of Learning support rich and equitable practices in all areas of the curriculum. Jess is sharing a project that I was invited to participate in by Nadine McSpadden. The project connected Numeracy and Coast Salish Weaving through coding with grades 2-7. One key question from this project for me has been: What I am learning about doing this work as a non-indigenous educator?

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David Barnum

David currently teaches grade 3 and works as an FA in the SFU Place And Nature-Based Experiential Learning program. He is passionate about taking the students into natural spaces and the community, as foundational to their learning. Grade 3 students observed and journaled about ecosystems and embraced a First Peoples Principle of Learning: connectedness and sense of place. The next step in this project is to use Mathematics as a way of unpacking new layers of meaning.

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Emily Gresham

I am a settler, grateful to be learning on the ancestral, unceded and traditional lands of the coast Salish peoples, including the Squamish, Tsleil Waututh and Musqueam nations. I’m a grade 6/7 teacher at Henderson Elementary School in Vancouver BC. I will be sharing about my experience learning from and collaborating with Anjeanette Dawson, a Squamish weaver. Anjeanette has shared her teachings at the UBC math symposium for a number of years. I’m super excited to share how she has inspired me to bring Squamish weaving into the 6/7 classroom.

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Jen Whiffin

Jen is currently a Numeracy Mentoring Support Teacher in the Coquitlam School District, working with teachers and schools to develop and strengthen inclusive approaches to math instruction. What stories does the land hold and how might math help us surface these stories? Jen shared her exploration of these questions and her work with elementary school teachers in using a problem-posing structure inspired by Alan Bishop to support land-based inquiry.

Stephanie Maki

Stephanie is currently a Vice Principal with 26 years of experience with North Vancouver School District. She was an Indigenous Academic Support Teacher and Indigenous Secondary Resource Teacher and holds a M.Ed. in Leadership: Indigenous Education. Stephanie has presented in Canada and the US and contributed to many curriculum initiatives; she also has a chapter in Learning, Knowing, Sharing: Celebrating Successes in K-12 Aboriginal Education in British Columbia. Stephanie shared experiences of embedding Indigenous perspectives in math (Grade 5/6) and participating in the Dogwood 25 Initiative this year.

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Tannis Calder

Tannis is the District Learning Coordinator for Indigenous Learning in the Nanaimo-Ladysmith Public schools (SD68). Tannis shared her work on connecting Coast Salish stories to concepts in patterns and linear relations for grades 4 – 9.