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Rebirthed Teachings

The Two Row Wampum belt

What is Rebirthed Teachings?

Cree syllabics: ᑭᐤᐁ     ᓂᑕᐧᐃᑭᐧᐃᐣ      ᑭᐢᑭᓄᐊᒪᑕᐧᐃᓇ

Cree: Kiwenitawi-kiwin Kiskino-amatawina (Omushkegowak Nehiyawah)


Rebirthed Teachings is a team of Indigenous and non-Indigenous staff who collaborate to foster truth, understanding and respect between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Peoples. We also aim to increase understanding of our shared history.

Rebirthed Teachings is part of the Indigenous Initiatives unit in the Office of the Vice-President, Equity and Community Inclusion (OVPECI).

The primary focus of Rebirthed Teachings is to establish Rebirthed Teachings educational offerings as one of many portals to the Indigenous community at Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU). Hosts of and participants in our educational offerings are engaged using a holistic four-step after-care approach as they progress on their learning journey.

Since 2015, approximately 45 sessions have been delivered on the TMU campus, with over 1,300 participants engaged to date. 

About our name

Our name, “Rebirthed Teachings”, symbolizes how members have voluntarily taken up the work of Indigenous and non-Indigenous allyship (as illustrated in the Two Row Wampum Belt image). This work has a long history on Turtle Island, dating back to fur-trading days when Indigenous and non-Indigenous Peoples traded with one another, relying on “go-betweens” to move from one community to the next to facilitate good relationships. Allyship skills, once set aside, are now in a period of “rebirth”.

The group was originally established in 2015 as the KAIROS Blanket Exercise Working Group. In 2020, we received our new name Kiwenitawi-kiwin Kiskino-amatawina (Rebirthed Teachings) from Joanne Okimawininew Dallaire, Elder (Ke Shay Hayo) and Senior Advisor, Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation at TMU. The name was formalized during a small ceremony and teaching with Joanne later that year.

Cultivating a new campus community

The approach of Rebirthed Teachings is framed as an invitation to students, faculty and staff at TMU. Through reciprocal allyship, we encourage all to contribute to the creation of collaborative and supportive spaces to cultivate a community that is positive, empowering, trauma-informed and cognizant of Indigenous ways of life, as well as dedicated to improving Indigenous experiences on campus.

We aim to build a community on campus that has never been seen before. 

Our approach

The approach of Rebirthed Teachings is to foster:

  • An Indigenous-friendly environment where Indigenous ways of being are central and the focal point of gatherings (i.e. use of the circle format and a holistic approach that prioritizes the body, mind and spirit).
  • A relationship-based model that invites community members to support the Rebirthed Teachings community through the continual renewal of connection and relationality.
  • A trauma-informed model that recognizes that substantive change takes time, with the willingness to support people where they are at in their learning and healing journey.

Our core values

The core values of Rebirthed Teachings are:

  • Relationships, which form the core of our work. We invite those working with us to join and start a discussion, then circle back as the projects develop.
  • We are responsible for increasing our understanding of our shared history and being committed to life-long learning and sharing in those teachings.
  • Accountability to the Indigenous community and our place in the journey of Truth and Reconciliation.
  • Reciprocity to support the healthy functioning of this community, which includes an understanding of what we bring to the table to offer Indigenous community members at TMU so that they in turn, can support their communities.

Our partners

  • The Centre of Excellence in Teaching and Learning 
  • Human Resources
  • Student Affairs
  • Ted Rogers School of Management
  • Toronto Metropolitan University Libraries

Our members

  • Amy Desjarlais, lead, Rebirthed Teachings, Indigenous Initiatives, Office of the Vice-President, Equity and Community Inclusion (OVPECI)
  • Curtis Maloley, director, teaching development and digital learning, Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT)
  • Heather Willis, accessibility coordinator, OVPECI
  • Monica McKay, director, Indigenous Initiatives, OVPECI
  • Rachel Barreca, manager, strategic initiatives, Student Affairs
  • Sabina Chatterjee, project manager, equity partnerships and training, Experiential Learning, CELT
  • Trina Grover, librarian, Toronto Metropolitan University Libraries
  • Danielle Moed, educational developer, Experiential Learning, CELT
  • Rudra Persad, manager, student engagement and development, Faculty of Community Services Society (FCSS) 
  • James McKay, Indigenous human resources lead
  • Renée Ferguson, educational developer, CELT
  • Joanna Beyersbergen, director of development, Libraries
  • Anamika Baijnath, director of experiential learning, quality assurance and strategic initiatives, Faculty of Community Service
  • Andrew Pettit, director of recreation, equity, and active well-being, Athletics and Recreation

Educational offerings for TMU community members

The Box and Circle Teaching sessions are focused on Indigenous experiences of our shared history in Canada. 

This is an interactive, experiential learning tool that shares stories about Indigenous experiences of residential schools, Canada’s Assimilation Policies, and the effects on Indigenous communities. Participants will learn how to work together and make meaningful change through reciprocal allyship.

Originally brought forward by Haudenosaunee Therapist Jann Derrick, PhD, R.M.F.T. and shared with Rebirthed Teachings through Rod Jeffries, Haudenosaunee from Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory.

What to expect

An Indigenous-friendly environment

A learning space created with some or all of the elements listed below:

  • The presence of an Elder or “aunty/helper” to help facilitate the session along with the facilitators. If the Elder, aunty and/or helper is present, traditional teachings may also be offered during the opening and closing/debriefing circles.
  • Smudging,a ceremony for purification, which involves burning a small amount of herbal medicines. 
  • Guidelines for those present who are demonstrating respect for the learning space, the facilitators/speakers, and other participants.
  • An open and welcome display of emotions and feelings about your experiences during the session.
Discussion about the following learning outcomes

The Box and Circle Teaching is an interactive learning experience designed to deepen your understanding of the denial of Indigenous Peoples’ nationhood in Canada. While every individual’s experience of the teaching is different, here is what you can expect to learn as a participant: 

  • Understanding of how First Nations, Inuit, and later Métis Peoples lost access to their land and the impact this loss had on their communities, both in the past and today.
  • Appreciation of how Indigenous Peoples have always resisted assimilation. 
  • Greater awareness of your feelings.

This exercise may generate complicated feelings for some people. Participants might also feel some anger even after the exercise ends. Participants will be invited to reflect on their feelings and what they have learned in a supportive, respectful environment.

If you are hosting a session with your team or department, we invite you to debrief with your group. We also provide opportunities for feedback in our after-care toolkit, which is sent to hosts shortly after the session.

Following the session

For those of you just beginning your journey, we’ve designed a holistic, four-step after-care process to support your learning with us. After the session, you can continue your learning with our Rebirthed Teachings aftercare toolkit. You will learn about the first two steps: self-care and self-education.

The after-care process focuses on four key areas:

  • Spirit (energy)
  • Emotions (feelings)
  • Mind (thoughts)
  • Body (actions)

Spirit (energy) is infused into all aspects of our work, from circle format during our educational offerings to the inclusion of the Elder and their guidance where possible.

Previous educational tools like the KAIROS Blanket exercise used blankets as a physical and symbolic tool. The blankets used during the sessions were designed and handmade specifically for Toronto Metropolitan University by Cher Trudeau, Administrative Coordinator, Indigenous Education Council and Indigenous Initiatives, in the OVPECI.

Blankets laid out on the floor

Get involved

Rebirthed Teachings members offer collaborative learning opportunities with Indigenous students, faculty and staff.

  • Do you have skills you wish to offer to Indigenous students? (e.g. job search skills, networking, research, innovation, etc.) 
  • Do you want to volunteer for our cross-campus annual Indigenous events? (e.g. National Indigenous Peoples Day on June 21 or Orange Shirt Day on September 30)

Get in touch

We encourage you to explore ways to collaborate with Rebirthed Teachings. If you have any questions about Rebirthed Teachings, please contact Amy Desjarlais Waabishka Kakaki Zhaawshko Shkeezhgokwe (White Raven Woman with Turquoise Eyes), lead, Rebirthed Teachings, Indigenous Initiatives, OVPECI:

Phone: 416-979-5000, ext. 55-2423
Room: Kerr Hall West, 366A