Deb St. Amant, Kawartha Pine Ridge Teacher Local
Deb’s involvement in Federation began as a steward in her school and blossomed into serving on her local’s Equity Committee, serving as the Committee’s first chairperson and then as a member of the Committee until her retirement in 2012. She was pleased to facilitate a Race Relations retreat at Hiawatha First Nation for members of her local.
Interest in provincial ETFO began with shadowing the Aboriginal Education Standing Committee, and later serving as Committee member and chairperson. Deb treasured participating in ETFO’s Leaders For Tomorrow program – developing her leadership skills, broadening her vision of the provincial organization and meeting dynamic activist colleagues at the same time. Deb conducted many provincial workshops including The Teaching Circle, The Power of Story 1 & 2, Imagine A World Free From Fear, equity workshops at …and still we rise and presented at ETFO’s Summer Aboriginal Experience in both 2004 and 2007. As an ETFO curriculum writer, she worked collaboratively on Le Cercle du Savoir and Connections documents and wrote lessons for the National Aboriginal Festival.
Deb was first elected to the ETFO Executive in 2007 as its first person of Indigenous ancestry. She served as Executive Member for two terms, while continuing to work as a full-time teacher. She was truly humbled at the outpouring of political support from many locals and members both times she ran for elected office. She served as OTF Governor for two years and remembers how proud she felt to sit at ETFO’s table of all women representatives at OTF, contrasting to the vast majority of men at the OTF Board of Governors’ table. Deb served on the CTF Aboriginal Issues Standing Committee and represented ETFO and Canadian teachers of Aboriginal ancestry at Education International in Capetown, South Africa in 2011. She spoke dynamically about Shannen’s Dream, raising awareness of the poor school conditions in Attawapiskat and working to ensure that all children have access to healthy schools.
Her favourite memories of Federation include the honour of introducing President Sam Hammond at Annual Meeting, and the support and encouragement of staff in Equity and Women’s Services who helped her flourish from a shy, non-political being into a human rights and equity activist.
In retirement, Deb visits schools to teach Indigenous art, is learning how to speak Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe), belongs to a drumming circle, assists with lessons at the Kingston Indigenous Languages Nest, and enjoys painting, kayaking and gardening.