In honour of Aboriginal Day on June 21, 2015 and the Truth and Reconciliation Ceremony which took place on June 5, 2015 Shelby Croft’s grade four class from Langley, BC decorated hearts to put in the school’s garden. The hearts were decorated in memory of those who were affected by Indian residential schools.
The students had participated in several weeks of cultural lessons which ended with the history of residential schools. The students were very shocked and angry learning what happened to the students who attended those schools. It gave a brief glimpse into the lives of others. Some of the hearts were then sent off to Ontario for the Truth and Reconciliation closing ceremony to be placed along with 1000 heart flowers from across the country.
Several classes from Byrne Creek Secondary honoured survivors and those children lost to residential schools by creating a heart garden in their memory. Many students from across the country participated in creating heart flowers and sent them for the closing ceremony where the final report for the Truth and Reconciliation was delivered. Over 1,000 heart flowers were planted at Rideau Hall in Ottawa.
After learning about the legacy of Indian Residential Schools through a presentation by Cecelia Reekie, one of Langley’s Cultural Presenters, the Grade 6 classes at Yorkson have made hearts out of seed paper to send with Cecelia for her trip to the Truth and Reconciliation Closing Ceremony in Ottawa. The hearts are made out of paper embellished with wild flower seeds. The message they’d like to send is that the survivors receiving the hearts can plant the wild flowers and watch them grow in hopes of healing their hearts. The students and teachers are sending their love and hope for all of the survivors of residential schools. The students were very touched by Cecelia’s story.
As a legacy to the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) of Canada, former students of Indian Residential Schools and their families, the TRC, the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society, KAIROS and Project of Heart invite children and youth across the country to create a Heart Garden.
Canadian Teachers’ Federation president Dianne Woloschuk along with AGM delegates from many B.C. locals were in attendance and were thrilled to learn about the new Justice 4 Indigenous Women initiative through Project of Heart.
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip was the keynote speaker at the BCTF AGM where over 700 teachers gathered in Victoria. He opened by speaking to the wonderful work being done by teachers from across our province.
Melissa Hyland, Lorelei Williams and Cecelia Reekie (second, third and fourth from right) presented at the Kwantlen Cultural Centre to commemorate International Women’s Day. Organized by Langley teachers, this event celebrated Aboriginal Women and brought awareness to Canada’s missing/murdered women.
Several districts in the fraser valley brought staff together
to network and participate in
some fabulous workshops including Project of Heart and Justice for Indigenous Women.
Students from across the province at all grade levels have designed tiles in honor of the survivors and for the children who never returned from Indian Residential Schools. Participants at the conference then created jewelry from the tiles. For more information about this project please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
BCTF members as well as support staff from many districts participated in the Stolen Lives Conference to bring to light the many forms of domestic human trafficking. The opening welcome by Kwantlen Elder Lekeyten set the stage for the many informative presentations by Melissa Hyland, Charlene Bearhead, and Victor Porter. The day ended with a healing ceremony which included participants creating witness pieces for survivors at the Truth and Reconciliation closing ceremony and in support of a new initiative of Project of Heart, Justice for Indigenous Women.
Twenty-one Arden Elementary Grade 1 and 2 students wrote to their local Member of Parliament and to the Prime Minister. First Nations children should not have to fight for services that all other Canadians enjoy.
For more information on First Nations Child and Family Caring Society initiatives please visit
After watching Shi Shi Etko or reading When I was Eight and Fattylegs the staff and students ( grades 1-6) of Arden Elementary School wanted to honour Residential School Survivors on Orange Shirt Day. Some students wrote thought provoking option pieces or created found poems based on feelings of loss of family and culture while younger students wrote messages of hope and the importance of family on paper feathers.
Over 750 educators from across the province participated in the First Nation Education Steering Committees (FNESC) conference as they celebrated their 25th anniversary. Project of Heart BC was featured as one of the workshops and was met with much enthusiasm. A new initiative created by Sylvia Smith in support of Justice For Indigenous Women was shared as one of many possible social justice actions that teachers and students may participate in.