Lisa Howell

Recipient of the 2018 Governor General’s History Award for Excellence in Teaching

November 8, 2018

Pierre Elliot Trudeau Elementary School, Gatineau (Quebec)

Lisa Howell embodies a decolonizing approach to teaching, encouraging her students to learn, think critically, build connections and take social justice actions towards reconciliation.

Recently, her Grade 5 and 6 students explored historical and current issues surrounding the funding of First Nations healthcare in Canada.

After conducting research, listening to stories from Elders, and speaking with experts, they used their knowledge to write and film a Public Service Announcement about Jordan’s Principle. Students worked in one of three committees — script-writing, filmmaking, or art — allowing them to contribute in a way that felt safe and meaningful to them.

Created in collaboration with the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society and Health Canada, the Public Service Announcement aired on national television and radio, as well as on various social media sites.

For Ms. Howell, a decolonizing approach to teaching means guiding her students to recognize their role and responsibility in learning history and empowering them to take action towards the future.